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VOL. I. 


UNDER SEALED ORDERS, By Grant Allen. 3 vols. 
A LONDON LEGEND. By Justin H. McCarthy. 3 vols. 
THE TREMLETT DIAMONDS. By Alan St. Aubyn. 2 vols. 

Besant. I vol. 
THE MINOR CHORD. By J. Mitchell Chapple. i vol. 
HIS VANISHED STAR. By C. Egbert Craddock. i vol. 

I vol. 

Crokek. I vol. 
MADAME SANS-GENE. By E. Lepelletier. i vol. 
MOUNT DESPAIR. By D. Christie Murray, i vol. 
THE PHANTOM DEATH. By W. Clark Russell, i vol. 
THE PRINCE OF BALKISTAN. By Allen Upward. 1 vol. 
London : CHATTO .^ WINDUS, Piccadilly. 









U n tJ II 



f 13 

a)' I 









II. GOTHAM - - - - - 19 

III. blue-eye's aunt - - - - 38 

IV. THE BOW-ROOM - - - - 56 
V. EDITH DARCY's DREAM - - - - 66 


VII. AT THE STORES . _ - - 101 


» IX. A PRIVATE DETECTIVE - - - - 134 


XI. DORA's HONEYMOON . . , - 163 

XIL A STRANGE TASK . . _ - 182 




It had been a very busy day : it was the eve 
of Dora Bellew's wedding. There had been so 
much to do. There is always so much left to 
do on the last day. There were the trunks to 
pack — the trunks that the bride was to take 
away with her on her wedding journey — the 
wedding presents to arrange, and the prepara- 
tions for the morrow to complete. 

Dora Belle w set out the wedding presents 
herself; she was very particular in arranging 
them. There were a good many to arrange. 

VOL. I. 1 


They had been pouring in for a week past ; 
some had only arrived that day. One, the 
very last, arrived on the eve of the wedding, 
just as she was giving a finishing touch to 
them — putting the last pair of salt-cellars in 
their place. ' It is very tiresome,' she re- 
marked plaintively, ' so many people sending 
duplicates.' She had had at least a dozen 
pairs of silver salt-cellars and six sets of tea- 
spoons, and every variety of afternoon - tea 

The last present that arrived was from the 
bridegroom. It was not a salt-cellar, or a set 
of teaspoons, or an afternoon-tea table. Dora's 
fingers trembled as she opened it : the parcel 
had been brought into the room where she w^as 
arranging the wedding presents, ready for the 
guests to admire them on the morrow. They 
could not help admiring them ; it was a lovely 
lot of presents for one girl to receive. Edith 
Darcy, one of the bridesmaids — the principal 
bridesmaid — who was helping to arrange them, 


thought she had never seen anything so lovely 
in her life. 

There was only Edith in the room when 
Dora Bellew opened the parcel from her lover. 
She opened it slowly, with trembling fingers 
— she did not know why they trembled ; they 
had not trembled when she opened the other 
parcels — and Edith watched her with sparkling 

' It's — it's — what is it ? Guess, Dora, before 
you open it !' she cried gaily, as Dora came to 
the last wrapping. 

' It's another case of spoons,' Dora said, with 
a laugh — rather a nervous laugh. 

' Oh, it can't be spoons ; it's too long.' 

' That's the case. It's something in a case. 
I'm so glad it's in a case ! I love things in cases !' 

Still she did not attempt to open it. 

' It's a very long case,' Edith said reflectively ; 
* it might be ' 

* Fish - carvers !' the bride-elect suggested 


' Nonsense ! He wouldn't send that sort of 
thing ; it's something to wear.' 

Edith was quite right— it was something to 
wear. It was a lovely diamond necklace. 
When the case was opened it seemed to fill 
the room with light. Dora gave a little scream 
of delight, and Edith held her breath. It 
quite took away her breath to look at it ; 
it was something like a necklace ! Not a 
row of sinofle stones, but a beautiful necklace 
with pendants, and loops of diamonds, and 
a lovely centre ornament in the form of a 

Captain Tremlett had had the old family 
diamonds reset for his bride, and the setting 
of the necklace had been his own design. The 
thistle had something to do with the arms of 
the family. 

* You never will be able to wear this, Dora,* 
Edith said presently, as she held the necklace 
up to the light. 

' Why not ? Why shouldn't I wear it V Dora 


asked, pouting. She couldn't understand Edith's 

' Oh, there's so much of it ! You ^vould look 
like an idol.' 

She was angry with herself the moment after 
she had spoken. She couldn't think why she 
had said such an unkind thing about Captain 
Tremlett's present to his bride. 

' Why should I look like an idol V asked Dora 
in an injured voice, putting the beautiful shining 
thing back into its velvet case. 

' It was only fun, dear. I don't know why I 
said it. You would look lovely in it. Try it 
on — you must try it on.' 

Dora took it out of the case rather 
unwillingly, and Edith clasped it round 
her white throat. It was a beautiful slender 
white throat, and a plump, soft, creamy 
neck. Dora Bellew had the loveliest white 
skin in the world, and the beautiful necklace 
gleamed upon it as it had gleamed and 
glistened in its white velvet case ; it did not 


lose any brilliancy by its change of surround- 

This is saying a great deal. It is not every 
woman's throat that sets off a diamond neck- 

* It looks lovely, dear !' Edith said, kissing 
her. * How proud he will be to see you wear- 
ing it !' 

' I don't know,' Dora said with a sigh, look- 
ing at her reflection in the glass critically. * I 
think there is too much of it. I shall always 
feel like an idol when I wear it — like that 
image of Buddha, the fat, grinning bronze 
thing in the hall.' 

She took the necklace off, and put it back 
into its case and closed it. It shut with a 
spring, rather a hard spring to close. 

* Why don't you leave the case open like the 
rest ?' Edith asked. 

'Oil, I hate to see it open ! It reminds me 
of Buddha. Perhaps, if I don't see it, I shall 
forofet all about it when I wear it.' 


Everybody admired Captain Tremlett's beau- 
tiful present. If anyone thought it was too 
elaborate for so youthful and petite a bride, he 
held his peace. 

There was a houseful of wedding guests, 
uncles and aunts and cousins, and they all 
agreed that it was a most beautiful gift — a 
quite magnificent wedding gift. 

The diamond ornaments and the more valu- 
able articles of jewellery among the presents 
were carried upstairs at night, and locked away 
in Mrs. Bellew's fire-proof safe. There was a 
fire -proof safe, almost as large as a room, built 
in the wall of her dressing-room, where she 
kept her valuables, and where the silver things 
belonging to the house were locked up at 

Dora's wedding presents had a separate 
locked cupboard to themselves. Edith helped 
her carry them upstairs, and stayed behind to 
lock the door of the safe, while Dora went in 
to say * Good-night ' to her mother. 


It was a long ' good-night ' — her last at home ; 
she did not know how hard it would be until 
she came to say it. She was going away on 
the morrow ; the old home-life was at an end. 
A new life was opening before her — a new life 
with new ties. She was going out from the old 
tried love and shelter to the new and the un- 
tried. No wonder that she could not tear 
herself away. 

It was quite late before Dora fell asleep that 
night ; she had so much to talk about to Edith, 
who slept with her. Edith was to be her 
bridesmaid on the morrow, and she was staying 
with the other wedding guests in the house. 

When she grew tired of her own concerns, 
she talked about Edith's, or, rather, yawned 
over them : they were not so interesting as her 

' I suppose you will be married before we 
come back, Edie V she said sleepily. 

* I don't know, I'm sure. Derek wants it to 
be in October, when he gets his leave. We 


could go abroad for the winter ; but I don't see 
what we could do when we come back. We 
couldn't always live abroad, and we have not 
enough money between us to begin housekeep- 
ing with. We should have to take a flat, if we 
began in the very smallest way, and it would 
have to be furnished. Sometimes I think I 
will give it all up. It isn't fair to Derek, such 
a boy as he is — he is live years younger than 
I am — to let him in for the care and worry 
of it. When he ought to be enjoying himself 
like other men, taking life easily, he'll be tied 
up to an old woman — I feel quite an old woman 
sometimes — and have the cares of a house and 
family. Poor Derek ! If I loved him as he 
deserves to be loved, I should let him go.' 

There were tears in Edith Darcy's voice and 
on her pillow as she spoke of her lover and the 
sacrifice he was making for her sake, but she 
was speaking to unheeding ears. Dora had 
fallen asleep. 

Dora Bellew was married the next day. It 


was rather a gloomy wedding, in spite of all the 
gay preparations that had been made for it. 
The guests had to drive from a distance. 
Nun well was five miles from the nearest town 
— the nearest town was Hereford — and those 
who drove over in open carriages got wet 
through before they reached the church. It 
rained without a break the whole day, a gray, 
dreary autumn day, with the wet west wind 
beating against the church window-panes, and 
the rain coming down on the roof all through 
the service. 

Dora could hear the monotonous drumming 
of the rain on the roof of the chancel, and the 
patter of the rain-drops on the leaves of the 
trees in the churchyard outside, all the time 
she was kneeling before the altar. She heard 
the mournful drop, drop, drop, above the solemn 
words of the service and the responses of the 
bridegroom, like a dreary refrain. The church 
was damp and cold, and she shivered in her 
white, as she stood before the altar with the 


bridegroom's hand clasping hers. He was a 
big, heavy, dark-browed man, and he did not 
smile upon her once all through the service, as 
a bridegroom should have done. Everyone 
remarked that he was looking distinctly un- 
amiable. Somethino^ had crone wrono^, and he 
was letting off his sulks and his ill temper upon 
the poor little white-faced bride. Everybody 
agreed that it was a very great match for 
little Dora Bellew ; there was not a girl in the 
county that would not have jumped at Lionel 
Tremlett, and yet very few envious glances were 
cast at the bride as she walked in her lace and 
orange-blossom down the aisle by his side. 

He let someone else put her in the carriage, 
and he got moodily in beside her, and drove 
back to the house with the window down all 
the way — he would not have it up— and his 
white-gloved hand on the sill, with the rain 
drifting in. He did not speak a word to the 
little trembling bride on the way back from the 
church, and she sat shiverino^ in her wedding 


finery, with great splashes of rain drifting in on 
her satin gown, and the tears, which she could 
not keep back, dropping silently on the bouquet 
of orange-flowers in her lap. Everybody agreed 
that the bridegroom was behaving like a bear. 
There was a reason for his behaving badly. Dora 
had disappointed him — she had slighted his 
wedding gift. 

He had expected her to wear the diamond 
necklace which he had had mounted to his own 
special design as a wedding ornament, and she 
had left it at home. She hadn't even taken it 
out of the case : she had brought it downstairs 
on the morning of the wedding-day, and put it 
among the rest of the presents, but she had not 
opened the case. No one but Edith had noticed 
that the case was not opened ; she remembered 
that unfortunate allusion to Buddha when she 
noticed it, and held her peace. 

No one had suggested that Dora should wear 
the necklace at her wedding : it would have 
looked dreadful on that chilly, depressing 


morning to have gone to church blazing in 
diamonds. The brideoTOom had noted its 
absence, and he took it into his head to be 
sulky about it. He had often been known to 
be sulky with other people, but he had never 
been sulky with Dora before, and his sulkiness 
on this particular occasion did not seem to bode 
well for her future happiness. 

It was really a great match for her. She 
could not expect to have everything ; there 
are drawbacks to everv lot — drawbacks, and 
compensations. Captain Tremlett was the 
head of the family. It was an old county 
family : the Tremletts had come over w^ith the 
Conqueror. There were branches of the family 
all over the county — Mrs. Bellew had been a 
Tremlett ; but the head, the acknowledged 
head, old Sir Bourchier, lived in great state at 
Castle Hill in the northern division of the 
county, and Captain Tremlett was his only 
son. Dora Bellew would be Lady Tremlett one 
day, and she w^ould be the head of the family. 


Everybody agreed she was a lucky girl — an 
awfully lucky girl. 

Sir Bourchier was at the wedding, and the 
Miss Tremletts, the Captain's sisters. They 
took no part in the ceremony ; they were not 
among the bridesmaids; they merely looked on. 
They could not think what their brother could 
see in such an insignificant little creature as 
Dora Bellew — a dowdy, plump little thing, 
with only a soft white skin, and soft brown 
eyes, and a soft purring voice, to recommend 
her. There was something so soft about Dora, 
soft and still, that they used to call her ' Mousey ' 
— ' Little Mousey.' The very last person in the 
world that Sir Bourchier would have expected 
his son to choose for a wife was Little 
Mousey Bellew. Of course there was the con- 
nection — she was about a sixteenth cousin — all 
the Bellews in the county were connections ; 
there was nothing to find fault with in her 
birth. The Bellews, if they hadn't got a penny, 
were good enough to marry anybody. 


Sir Bourchier had no fault to find, so far as 
family went, with his son's choice, but Mousey 
— he had always known her from a child as 
' Mousey' — was not exactly the sort of girl that 
he would have chosen to sit at the head of his 
son's table, to bear the weight of the family 
honours when he was gone. He had had a 
dreadful haunting fear — it almost amounted to 
a conviction — that his son would never marry, 
that there would be no descendants to carry on 
the race in the old line, that the title would go 
to a distant branch. 

He was glad, therefore, to welcome any 
daughter-in-law, and whatever his private 
opinion might be, he welcomed Dora into the 
bosom of his august family with stately, old- 
fashioned courtesy. He unbent so far, when 
the party came back from church, as to kiss her 
soft white forehead, and express a hope that 
she would be very happy, and that he should 
see a great deal of her at Castle Hill. The 
two Miss Tremletts followed their father's lead 


and kissed her damp cheek — at least, they made 
a peck at it. They were elderly young ladies > 
and were not effusive. 

Poor little Dora cried all through the break- 
fast : she couldn't keep her tears back. She was 
crying at one end of the table, and her mother 
crying at the other, while the new son-in-law 
sat staring at everybody in gloomy silence. He 
got up from the table as soon as he could ; he 
didn't wait till the speeches were over; he was 
in a great hurry to get away. He flurried poor 
little Dora out of her wits ; he didn't give her 
time to say all her ' good-byes,' and drove off to 
the station an hour before the train was due. 

He upset everything with his unnecessary 
haste. The bride's travelling - boxes were 
fastened down hurriedly, and a lot of things 
that she wanted were left out, and a lot of 
things that she didn't want were put in. Some 
of the jewellery — the bracelets and ornaments, 
that were among the wedding presents — was. 
put in in a hurry at the last moment. No one 


knew exactly what was put in, it was all done 
in such a scramble. 

When the tearful bride had driven away, the 
guests began to disperse. Sir Bourchier and his 
daughters were among the first to go. The big 
lumbering family chariot was brought round, and 
the head of the family departed in gloomy state. 
Dora's new sisters-in-law had not taken the 
trouble to look at the wedding presents she had 
spread out with so much delight before they 
went away. They did not even glance at the 
silver salt-cellars or the afternoon-tea tables. 
There was a ton of old silver plate, it was 
rumoured, at Castle Hill, and they turned up 
their high-bred noses at little Dora's silver 

They did not stop to see the present that 
Captain Tremlett had sent his bride, the old 
family diamonds that he had had set in that 
elaborate necklace. Everybody in the con- 
fusion seemed to have forgotten that unlucky 
7 VOL. I. 2 


What with the rain, and the bridegroom 
jumping up in that ridiculous way in the middle 
of the marriage feast, and the scramble to get 
away, not many of the guests had seen the 
wedding presents. 

It was quite late in the day, when nearly 
everyone was gone, that somebody remarked 
that closed morocco case among the presents. 

' Oh, haven't you seen it V Edith said ; she 
was generally showman — there was no one else 
to go round with the people ; ' it is the gift of 
the bridegroom. It is quite the — the — most 
macrnificent ' 

She had been trying to open the case — it was 
rather a hard spring to unfasten — and she 
stopped suddenly, and the guests who had 
crowded round, and who were watching her 
unfasten it, saw her face fall — saw the colour 
drop quite out of it. 

11 I e case was empty ! 



No one knew what had become of the diamond 
necklace. Had Dora taken it with her ? She 
had gathered up a few things in a hurry — some 
gold bangles and a bracelet — and she had left 
their cases behind her, empty. There was no 
room in her travelling-trunks for cases. She 
might have taken the necklace, too, as the 
bridegroom made such a fuss about it. She 
might have taken it with her to please him, to 
wear at dinner for his especial benefit. 

It was ridiculous to think that it was lost oi 
stolen ; there was no one at Nunwell to steal 
it. The door of the room in which the presents 


were set out had been locked while the wedding 
party were away at church, and the house- 
keeper had kept the key in her pocket. It was 
absurd to make a fuss about it — enough fuss 
had been made about it already. Most likely 
the bride had taken it away with her ; and she 
would come down to dinner in it by-and-by. 
She was such a sweet- natured little thing, that 
she would wear it day and night if she thought 
the wearing of it would give her lord and 
master pleasure. 

Mrs. Bellew made so little of the loss, or 
rather the disappearance, of the necklace, that 
she only mentioned it in her letter to Dora in a 
postscript. When everybody was gone, she 
comforted herself by sitting down and writing 
to Dora. There were so many instructions she 
had intended to give her, so much to say that 
had been left unsaid, that she forgot all about 
the bridegroom's present until she had finished 
her letter ; and then she added the postscript : 

* Pray let me hear,' she wrote, ' if you have 


taken Lionel's beautiful necklace away with 
you ; we are wondering what has become 
of it.' 

Edith Darcy went away the next day. There 
was nothing for her to wait for. She had seen 
Dora safely married, and she had cut up the 
cake ; she had spent the remainder of the 
wedding-day in squeezing bits of cake into 
little oblong boxes and writing people's names 
upon them. She was quite sick of the sight of 
wedding-cake when she had finished. She had 
made up her mind that if her wedding did 
come off, she would do without a cake. It 
would be a distinct economy, to begin with. 
She would put a notice in the papers, as 
people do after deaths, only with a variation, 
* No cah\' 

Mrs. Bellew smiled when Edith told her of the 
economy she was planning ; it was the first time 
she had seen her smile since Dora drove away. 

* You will have to do without a great many 
things besides cake, dear,' she said, ' if Captain 


Stanhope has only got his pay. I don't see 
how you are going to live upon it.' 

Edith sighed. 

* It will not be quite all,' she said, hanging 
her head, and reddening at the mention of her 
marriage, like a girl in her teens ; ' I have a little 
of my own, you know.' 

' That will only keep you in clothes, dear,' 
Mrs. Bellew said kindly. ' You will be expected 
to dress ; you can't economize in dress, what- 
ever else you do. Derek — Captain Stanhope — 
has to keep up his position in the regiment, and 
he could not afford to let his wife look dowdy ; 
besides ' 

She stopped herself and coloured ; she had 
almost thought aloud. 

' Besides, I am not so young, so attractive, 
that I can afford to be dowdy V the girl said 
quickly, with a thrill of impatience in her tone, 
her face flushing and her mouth quivering. 

She had a beautiful tender mouth, rather 
wide, and thin, sensitive, scarlet lips ; she could 



not keep her mouth from quivering if anything 
moved her. 

' I didn't mean that, dear. You are more 
attractive than most women. When you have 
got a colour, when you are excited, you 
are always the loveliest woman in the room. 
You were handsomer than any of Dora's 
bridesmaids — everybody remarked it ; but you 
want to be well dressed. I never knew a 
woman who paid for dressing more than you 

This was kindly meant. Mrs. Bellew would 
not have said anything to hurt the feelings of 
Dora's friend for the world. Edith had been 
a constant visitor at Nun well for the last ten 
years. Mrs. Bellew almost loved her as a 
dauofhter of her own. 

' It is very dear of you to say so,' Edith said, 
with something like a sob. ' If you knew how 
little I have to dress upon, you would only 
wonder that I can dress at all — that I am ever 
fit to be seen. You would cease to be surprised 


that I look shabby — that I am a disgrace to 
you all.' 

Her voice was unsteady, and there was a 
thrill in it that touched the elder woman and 
brought the tears to her eyes. 

' You have never, never disgraced us, darling ; 
you have always looked lovely ! No one could 
tell, to see you, that you had not as much to 
spend upon dress as other girls. You always 
looked better than Dora. Poor Dora ! she 
hasn't the figure to show off anything, as 
you have. If you put the richest things on 
her, it does not seem to make any differ- 

' Dora has made a very good match, in spite 
of it ; and I — I am going to marry a poor man 
with nothing but his pay,' Edith said, with a 
laugh — a rather tremulous laugh. 

She went away the next day. She went 
quite early, before the letters were in. She 
had to go to the other end of England, and she 
started by an early train. 


She had said good-bye to Mrs. Bellew the 
night before, and Gracie — Grace was Dora's 
younger sister — was asleep when she came into 
her room in the morning, to kiss her before she 
went away. She did not awake her ; she left 
the room on tiptoe, and went softly down the 
stairs, lest she should wake any of the sleeping 

It seemed to her, when the hall door had 
closed noiselessly upon her, and the carriage 
that bore her to the station drove away, that 
she had stolen out of the house like a thief. 

Edith had intended, when she decided to start 
by that early train from Hereford, to stop in 
town by the way and do some shopping. Her 
destination was some forty miles the other side 
of London. She would have to cross from west 
to east ; she would have to drive through 
London. It would not have delayed her to 
have done an hour or two's shopping in town, 
by the way. She had a great deal to do, if 
she were to be married in October. There were 


frequent trains from the Great Eastern rail- 
way-station to St. Oswald's, and she had plenty 
of time on her hands. 

When she reached town she changed her 
mind. She had consulted her purse on the 
journey, and a review of its contents had made 
her alter her mind. 

' It was not worth while,' she reminded her- 
self, with a sigh, ' to go and look over a lot of 
things — a lot of expensive things — and find out, 
after all, that she had not money enough to 
pay for them.' She had been thinking of what 
Mrs. Bellew had said overnight, when they 
were talking about her plans for the future, 
of the necessity there would be, when she was 
married, to be well dressed — not to disgrace 
her husband by her shabby clothes. 

It had been running in her mind all the way — 
that, and what Mrs. Bellew had said about her 
looks — and the two tos:ether had made her alter 
her mind, and put off the shopping that she 
had planned. 


* It will never do to buy common things, 
cheap things,' she reasoned, with Mrs. Bellew's 
words in her ears ; 'they would soon get shabby, 
the gloss would soon wear off them, and they 
would look dowdy. Whatever else I do, I can 
never, never wear cheap vulgar finery ! I must 
wait until I can afford something better.' 

There was some reason in what Mrs. Bellew 
had said. Edith Darcy was not a girl — a 
woman, rather ; she was twenty-nine, if she 
was a day — to wear common things. Her style 
of beauty — she had a distinct style in her way, 
and a certain sort of beauty — wanted careful 
dressing to set it off : it wanted costly stuffs, 
and rich dark colours, and unusual effects. 
There was nothing namby-]3amby about it. 

She was a pale brunette — not a brown or olive 
complexioned brunette of the regular type, but 
one with the clear white, rather thick white, com- 
plexion, that a sudden scarlet colour sets off to 
perfection. Her face was quite colourless to- 
day, as she leaned back against the dark 


cushions of that first-class carriage. Edith 
always travelled first-class ; it was one of her 
whims. She economized in a hundred other 
ways, but she always travelled luxuriously. 
She had never been in a third-class carriage in 
her life. 

Her hair was black — as a brunette's hair 
should be — rather a rusty black, with red-brown 
shades in it, like the inner lining of a chest- 
nut's skin, and her eyebrows were thin and 
dark and well defined, and she had long dark 
lashes, that veiled the softness, sometimes the 
hardness, of her eyes. Her eyes were dark — 
very dark — with a light in them that always 
seemed ready to flame up if occasion required. 
They were still, steady, reflective eyes — cold 
rather than warm — and they were set rather 
far back, which made her look older than she 
really was. 

It was only when she was animated, when she 
woke up, that she was beautiful. To the world 
she was a cold, silent, reserved woman ; she never 


laid herself out for strangers ; her chill}^ smiles 
were few and rare, and she never wasted them 
on chance acquaintances ; but to her friends, to 
those who loved her, she was a woman to rave 

She was not the sort of woman to be ill 
dressed ; she was made on noble lines — shabby 
gloves or a dowdy hat would have ill become 
her ; it would have dispelled all the illusion. 

There was no one to meet her at the railway- 
station at St. Oswald's when she reached there, 
but, fortunately, there was a fly waiting outside 
the station, which an officious porter secured for 
her. Everybody waited upon Edith. It was 
another of her whims to pay liberally all the 
people about her who rendered her any service. 
She never came away from a visit at a country 
house without feeing all the servants in the 
most princely manner. 

The hired fly from the station stopped at the 
door of one of the houses in the High Street 
— an old-fashioned red-brick house, standing in 


an olcl-fashioned garden, surrounded by high 
brick walls. The iron gates in front were 
closed, and the fly had to wait outside while 
someone answered the bell to open them. 
Edith could hear the bell clanging in the hall, 
as she sat waiting in the fly ; it had an old, 
cracked sound in it, as if it had grown tired of 
ringing. Everything about the place was old 
and worn out like the bell. Grass was growing 
in the gravelled path through which the 
carriage drove to the front-door ; it did not 
look as if it had had any fresh gravel upon it 
for years ; the flower-beds were neglected, and 
the shrubs on the lawn had grown into trees : 
they did not seem as if they had ever been 
pruned. There was a musty, shut-up smell 
about the place when the front-door was opened 
that did not speak well for the ventilation. 

' We didn't expect you back so soon, Miss 
Edith,' the woman who opened the door said. 
She was rather an elderly woman ; she did not 
look at all like a smart, modern housemaid. 


' No ; I forgot to write. I didn't think it 
mattered ; my room is always ready. How is 

. ' She is better to-day : it is one of her good 
days. I dare say she will know you. She was 
full of the wedding yesterday. She has been 
talking about it all night, and this morning she 
woke up clearer. I hope you've brought her 
some weddino^-cake.' 

Edith's brow clouded. 

' No,' she said ; ' I forgot the cake. I did 
not think she would remember.' 

* She remembers everything. She is quite 
counting upon the cake. You must tell her it 
is comincr.' 


Edith sighed. It was a very sad home- 
coming. There was no one to welcome her but 
a servant — an old servant who was not very 
glad to see her — and an elderly relative who 
was, as the people of St. Oswald's put it, ' off 
her head.' 

The elderly relative was her great-aunt, her 


father's aunt. Her father had been dead for 
years — he had died when she was a child — and 
her mother had died ten years ago. This old 
maiden aunt of her father's had offered her a 
home after the death of her parents ; she had 
not offered her any care or protection — she had 
only offered her a home, food and shelter, and 
Edith had accepted her offer gladly. When 
she had nowhere else to go, she went to St. 

She did not go there very often ; she was 
generally away visiting. Everybody was so 
glad to have her ; she could have gone on 
visiting at different country houses, and spent 
a season in town and a month in Scotland, and 
never come back to that dreary, shut-up old 
house from year's end to year's end, if she had 

She had an income of her own, not a very 
large income, and it found her in clothes and 
pin-money and paid her travelling expenses ; 
and for the rest, her friends were very glad to 


offer her a home. She had come back to St. 
Oswald's now to get her thmgs ready — her 
wedding things ; she would not be likely to 
go away again until she went away for good. 

* Is she up to-day — is she in the sitting- 
room ?' Edich asked wearily, as she went slowly 
up the stairs. She was not tired with her 
journey, not very, very tired — one doesn't soon 
get tired of travelling at thirty, and Edith was 
not yet thirty — but there seemed to be lead 
weights to her feet as she dragged them up the 

The staircase was dark and gloomy, like the 
hall ; the blinds were all drawn down over the 
windows ; only a dim, chastened light came 
through them. It was a wide, old-fashioned 
staircase, with broad landings and carved 
balusters, and on the walls were hung quite 
a number of portraits — old family portraits of 
the Darcys and Gunnings. 

Old Miss Gunning, Maria Gunning, was the 
present owner of the house. She never came 

VOL. I. 3 


down the stairs — she had not been down them 
for years — but she walked on the landing, the 
broad passage at the top of the stairs. It was 
almost a gallery, a wide carpeted gallery, with 
old-fashioned inlaid cabinets standing between 
the tall narrow windows, and quaint carved 
Chippendale chairs, with ball feet and wide 
straddling arms and legs, standing against the 
wall, and the portraits of their former owners, 
those who had once sat in them, looking down 
from above. 

Edith Darcy paused when she reached the 
top stair, as if she expected to see her aunt 
coming down the gallery. The blinds were 
closely drawn over all the tall windows. Miss 
Gunning objected to light ; it was one of her 
whims. Edith would hardly have seen her if 
she had been there — not until her eyes had got 
accustomed to the gloom. 

' She is in the bow-room to-day,' the servant 
called up after her, in answer to her question ; 
and then Edith heard a door in the hall 


below fall-to behind her, and the sound of 
the woman's footsteps echoing down a stone 

The bow-room was at the end of the gallery ; 
she had to go past the closed windows and the 
tall cabinets ao^ainst the wall to reach it. There 
was an old smell about the place, a faint 
aromatic odour ; she always associated that 
smell with Gotham — Gotham House, as it was 
called. Something brushed by her as she went 
slowly down the gallery, something white and 
indistinct in the gloom, and it rubbed against 
her and purred. It was a white cat. 

Edith opened the door at the end of the 
gallery ; she did not knock — she opened the 
door and w^ent in. There was a screen before 
the door, a high screen, and it shut out the 
light. There was very little light in the room 
to shut out. The gloom inside was deeper than 
the gloom without. If there had not been a 
small fire burning in the grate, Edith could not 
have seen the occupant of the room. By the 


dim light she saw a figure in an armchair on 
one side of the hearth, a bent drooping figure, 
bending over the fire. She could not approach 
very near the fire ; there was a high wire guard 
surrounding the hearth, and the bent figure in 
the chair was leaning her forehead against the 

' It is I, Aunt Maria,' Edith said, coming 
forward into the firelight. ' I have come 

' Edith,' the old woman said, as if talking to 
herself — ' Edith Gunning ? What has brought 
her back ? Why does she not stay with her 
husband ? Has he sent her away ? Is it the 
old story again — the old history repeating 

' No, Aunt Maria, he has not sent her back. 
It is not Edith Gunning — it is Edith Darcy : 
and — and I don't think her husband will ever 
send her back.' 

Edith spoke gaily, l^ut there was a little 
break in her voice. It was a sad home-coming. 




GOTHAM 37 • 

No one was glad to see her. There was no one 
to welcome her but a white cat, which had 
followed her into the room, and was rubbing 
itself against her skirts. 



The old woman sitting by the fireplace lifted 
her head wearily and looked at Edith ; she 
shaded her eyes with her hand that she might 
see her more clearly. They were dark, bright 
eyes, and they were set far back in her head, 
like Edith's. Her face was pale, too, like hers, 
only it was a chalky, waxen paleness, like one 
who had been long shut out from the light and 
air, who had been shut up for years in a living 
tomb. It was the paleness of age and decay, 
and Edith's was the fine white, warm pale- 
ness of youth. It was the same, with a 


' Edith Darcy !' the old woman repeated slowly, 
looking at Edith standing there in the firelight 
with her keen, searching eyes. ' Why should 
Edith Darcy come here ? She has a home of 
her own — a home that ought to have been 
another's. Why does she come here like a 
beggar, and eat the bread of dependence V 

' I thought she was clearer to-day,' Edith 
said to an attendant, an elderly woman, who 
stood near ; ' Martha told me it was one of her 
good days.' 

' She has been dozing,' the woman said, ' and 
she has just woke up ; she will remember you 
presently. — It is Miss Edith, ma'am ; she has 
just come back from the wedding, and she has 
brought you some cake.' 

' Cake !' the old woman said eagerly — * wed- 
ding-cake ? Has she brought it with her ? Is 
it here ? Are they bringing it upstairs ? Tell 
the men to carry it carefully, Penfold — not to 
shake the ornaments. There ought to be a 
temple upon it, the temple of Hymen, and 


orange blossoms and garlands. There was a 
temple upon my wedding-cake, but something 
happened to it. It was an unlucky omen, people 
said. You must be very particular, Penfold, 
that nothing happens to it.' 

* Nothing is likely to happen to it,' Penfold 
said in her prosaic, matter-of-fact way ; she did 
not even take the trouble to humour the old 
woman's whim. ' Miss Edith has only brought 
you a slice — a slice of somebody else's cake. 
People would have enough to do if they sent a 
whole cake to each of their friends ; there'd be 
less weddings, maybe.' 

* Perhaps she'll remember me better presently, 
when she is quite awake,' Edith said. ' I am 
tired, and want some tea ; I will come in again 

She had crossed the room, and was putting 
aside the screen before the door, when her aunt's 
voice arrested her, a high-pitched, quavering 
treble : 

' Don't take Blue-Eye away ! I can't give up 


Blue-Eye ! I have given up everything else, 
but I can't give up Blue-Eye !' 

* Blue-Eye was in the gallery when I came 
in,' Edith said wearily ; ' she came to meet 

' She was here just now — on my chair ; it 
must have been Blue-Eye's aunt you saw in 
the gallery,' she said querulously. ' Will you 
find her, Penfold ? You must find her.' 

Edith went out of the room, and left the old 
woman searching for the cat. It was the chief 
occupation of her life to look for the cats. 

Miss Gunning had not always been ' off her 
head,' as people described it. She had only 
shown symptoms of weakness of intellect for 
ten years past. She had lived a selfish, narrow, 
secluded life for years, but her mind had not 
given way until ten years ago. Perhaps it was 
the narrowness and the selfishness that made it 
give way. 

She was quite herself, even now, at times — ■ 
her old narrow self — but she w^as subject to de- 


luslons. She was always fancying that the 
friends of her youth were about her, that her 
lover — she had had a lover once — was coming 
back. She had forgotten all about the inter- 
vening years : they seemed to have dropped 
out of her mind, and she had gone back in 
memory to the old early days, to sixty years 
ago It was not often that she knew Edith. 
She persisted in calling her Edith Gunning. 
There had been an Edith Gunnino- once — her 
younger sister, Edith's grandmother. It was 
said she had supplanted her — that her lover 
had forsaken her for her sister, and that he 
had deserted her, too, after a time, and she had 
come back to Gotham — she and her children. 
It was so long ago that no one knew if there 
were any truth in the story. 

Edith Darcy had died more than fifty years 
ago. There was a marble monument to her in 
the parish church of St. Oswald's — a marble 
urn with a female figure weeping over it. She 
had been weeping there for over^s^alf a century, 


and she was weeping still. Xo one knew who 
had put up that monument in the church ; it 
was certainly not her sister Maria. She had 
left two children behind her — two boys. The 
elder, Edith's father, had died years ago, when 
she was a child, and left her with a slender 
provision ; the younger brother was still living, 
a rich man, with a second wife and a houseful 
of children. Edith could have gone to him 
when her mother died, but she preferred to 
accept the home offered her by her great- 
aunt. She would not be in anybody's way 
at Gotham, and she would be more her own 
mistress ; she would be free to come and go 

She had come and gone during these lonely 
years, never remaining long, and always return- 
ing with regret and reluctance. The dull life, 
and the whims and delusions of the old woman, 
wearied her ; she had no sympathy with them. 
She was always glad to go away. She com- 
forted herself \ty thinking how soon she would 


be going away again, and that she would never 
come back. She would not be like that other 
Edith Darcy, her unhappy namesake, who had 
come back after three years, a deserted wife, 
bringing her children with her. Whatever 
happened, she told herself, with a shiver, she 
would never come back. 

Nothing was likely to happen. The man she 
was going to marry worshipped her ; in the 
foolish old phrase, he loved the very ground 
she walked upon. Her only care just now w^as 
money ; they would have so little to begin with. 
He would have his pay, and her allowance — her 
slender allowance — which would only just find 
her in clothes — decent clothes. If anything 
drove her back to Gotham it would be her 

Miss Gunning was ' clearer,' as Penfold had 
predicted, when Edith came into the bow-room 
later, after she had had some tea. She was sitting 
upright in her chair, watching for the screen 
by the door to be pushed aside, and her niece 


to enter ; and the two white cats she had 
been in trouble about were asleep on the 

There was a shaded lamp on the table near 
the door, which gave a circumscribed light in 
its own immediate neighbourhood, and left the 
rest of the room in shadow. 

It was a spacious room, with a wide bow- 
window% from w^hich it took its name. It was 
full of old-fashioned furniture — high-backed 
chairs, and wide couches, and tall cabinets 
ranged against the wall. 

The same faint aromatic smell pervaded the 
room that pervaded the gallery outside, an old 
musty smell of pot-pourri that had been kept 
for years in a jar and had never been changed. 
There were big Oriental jars on the tall cabinets 
against the wall that might have been full of 
pot-pourri for half a century. But there were 
other things besides old china jars on the top of 
the cabinets ; there were glass cases of cats — 
stuffed cats. In the dim light they could be 


seen with their green shining eyes looking down 
from their high place. 

They were all white cats, ancestors of the 
pair sleeping on the hearth. They had been 
Miss Gunning's companions for years ; she 
had nothing else to love ; she had neither 
husband nor children like other women, and her 
affections had centred in her cats. They were 
her companions when they were living, and 
when they died — they were rather a delicate 
race, or too much petting was not good for 
them — she could not consent to be separated 
from them : she still kept them about her, in 
glass cases round the walls. 

In the dim light, with all those green eyes- 
looking down upon her, Edith thought, with 
a shudder, it looked like a mausoleum — a 
mausoleum of cats. She had seen them all 
before — all but one. One had been added to the 
number since she had been away. Blue-Eye, 
the reigning favourite, had lost a sister, and she 
had been added to the company against the walL 


Edith had to Hsten to a long detailed account 
of the sufferings and death of the deceased 
member of her aunt's family. The story took 
a long time telling, and put the old lady in a 
good humour. It was astonishing how clear 
and exact she was ; she did not leave out the 
smallest detail connected with her favourite's 
lamented demise. She had certainly not lost 
her memory ; she was quite clear and sane 
about some things — she was always clear about 
the cats. She made Edith go round the room 
and look at the white, soft, fluffy creature she 
had known in the flesh ; and Penfold held the 

' It is very nice,' Edith said, not very ecstati- 
cally — she had no patience with her aunt's 
mania ; ' but I shouldn't have known it : they 
are all so much alike.' 

' You are not looking at the right one ; that 
is not Blue-Eye's sister, it is her aunt !' the old 
woman said in an injured voice. 

' Oh, I see ; that is much nicer.' And 


without bestowing a look on the dead favourite, 
Edith came back and sat down. She took a 
seat on the other side of the fireplace, opposite 
the bent figure in the chair, and like her she 
leant forward and rested her head against the 
brass guard that went round the hearth. 

There was something in the action that made 
the resemblance between them more marked — • 
the weary stoop of the shoulders, and the 
drooping head. Some day, if she lived to 
grow old — so old, over fourscore — if she out- 
lived all her ties, Edith Darcy would shut 
herself up within four walls, and would set her 
affections, if she happened to have any left, 
upon cats. 

Perhaps Edith thought of this as she leaned 
her head against the fire - guard. It was 
better, she told herself, to make a mistake, 
to marry upon nothing at all ; to spend her 
life in pinching and scraping ; to be exposed to 
daily humiliation and defeat ; to have a thou- 
sand cares and anxieties : to endure sorrow 


and loss — but to have the love of husband 
and children — It was better to suffer all this 
than to be a lonely, selfish old woman. 

'You haven't told me about the wedding:, 
the old woman said presently, interrupting her 
thoughts. ' I knew the Tremletts when I was 
a girl ; they were connections, distant connec- 
tions, of the Gunnings.' 

' It was not a nice wedding,' Edith said, with 
a shiver ; ' it rained all the time. The bride's 
dress was quite wet when she came back from 
church ; she could shake the rain-drops off it.' 

' Tears, tears ! it is a sure sign,' Miss Gunning 
said, shaking her head. ' It rained the day that 
Edith Darcy was married. She went away in 
a storm ; there was a tree blown down on the 
lawn ; it lay across the path. What else could 
she expect V 

* It is a very good match for Dora,' Edith 
went on, not heeding the old woman's inter- 
ruption, speaking more to herself than to a 
listener — she had a habit of speaking to her- 

VOL. I. 4 


self, of thinking aloud. ' She will be the head 
of the family. Sir Bourchier is very infirm. 
She will be Lady Tremlett soon, and live 
at Castle Hill ; it is the show-place of the 

' Sir Bourchier V said the old woman with 
animation. ' I remember Sir Bourchier quite 
well ; he was a young man when I knew him. 
Lady Tremlett had splendid diamonds. The 
Tremlett diamonds were noted ; she used to 
wear them at the county balls.' 

Then Edith remembered the diamond neck- 
lace that had so suddenly disappeared, that had 
been lost sight of 

' Captain Tremlett had them reset for Dora,* 
she said with a sigh. She was thinking of the 
value, of the ridiculous value, of those glitter- 
ing stones that Dora despised — someone had 
said they were worth five thousand pounds. 
- He had them set as a necklace.' 

' Not all of them ? There were so many. I 
remember quite well seeing Sir Bourchier's wife 


wearing them — sprays, and tiara, and brooches. 
They could not be all put into a necklace.' 

* There were a good many. I never saw so 
many diamonds crowded together before. It 
was a much too elaborate thing to wear. He 
had better have given them to her in their old 

* The Gunning diamonds have never been 
reset,' the old woman said presently ; * they 
will never be reset in my time. Those that 
come after will do what they like with them. 
They used to be considered fine — none finer ; 
perhaps they have lost their brilliance ; they 
have not seen light for sixty years.' 

This was the first mention that Edith had 
ever heard~ of the Gunning diamonds. She 
would not have heard it now if it had not been 
for Dora Tremlett's necklace. 

She did not exactly gasp — she was not the 
girl to gasp — but she lifted her head from the 
fire-guard and listened. She listened breath- 

LIBRARY „.,^rtK 



' The Gunning diamonds V she said, with a 
Httle catch in her voice. 

' Yes,' the old woman said slowly, as if trying 
to recall the past ; ' I wore them last. They 
have always been mine. I wore them at — 
at ' 

She could not recall where she had last 
worn them, and the wretched little white 
cat stirring at her feet took off her atten- 

' I am sure Blue-Eye has not had her supper, 
Penfold,' she said. ' She always goes to sleep 
after her supper, and she is very restless to- 
night ; she can't settle.' 

' She had her supper at the usual time, 
Penfold said shortly. ' She'll settle when she's 
minded to.' 

The white cat did not seem inclined to 
'settle.' She walked about the room in a 
provoking manner, uttering every now and then 
ridiculous little plaintive ' mews,' like a spoilt 
child ; and all the while Edith was on tenter- 


hooks to hear more about the Gunning dia- 
monds — the diamonds that might be hers some 
day. If they were heirlooms, if the law of 
entail applied to them, they ought to be hers 

' Oh, Blue-Eye is all right !' she said im- 
patiently. ' I dare say she hears a mouse some- 
where ; there must be a lot of mice in this 
old house. You were telling me about the 
diamonds ' 

The old lady sat up in her chair. She was 
trembling all over. 

' A mouse I' she repeated. ' Did you say a 
mouse ? It was a mouse that killed her sister ; 
it disagreed with her. Will you look, Penfold, 
if there is a mouse ' 

Edith devoutly wished that Blue-Eye might 
share the fate of her sister, but she dissembled 
her feelings, and waited, with what patience she 
could, while Penfold searched under all the 
chairs and tables for an imaginary mouse. She 
waited in vain. Miss Gunning could not be 


brought round to the subject of the diamonds 
again that night. 

In her concern for that miserable white cat 
the recollection of the family diamonds went 
out of her mind — went out as suddenly as it 
had come in. They had been put away and 
forgotten for sixty years : nobody had ever 
heard of them ; perhaps no one would ever hear 
of them again. They might be only creations 
of her disordered brain. 

The following morning Edith received a letter 
from Mrs. Bellew. The diamond necklace had 
not been found. Dora had not taken it away. 
She was in great distress about it, and begged 
Edith to try to remember the last occasion 
on which it was seen — in whose possession she 
last saw it, and when. 

Later in the day she had a telegram from 
Dora herself 

' I am in dreadful trouble,' Dora telegraphed, 
* about the necklace. Can you think what has 
become of it ?' 


Edith was thinking about the necklace all 
the day. She could not get it out of her mind. 
She could not remember for certain where she 
had last seen it — if she had seen it on the 
morning of the wedding, when the case was 
brought downstairs to be put among the other 
presents, or if she had seen it last the night 
before, when she carried it upstairs. She had 
carried it up and brought it down herself, and 
she had stayed behind to lock the door of the 
iron safe upon it. 

She sat down and wrote a lono- letter to Mrs. 
Bellew, and another to Dora, and she told them 
each what she remembered about the missing 
necklace. She could not believe that it was 



Edith Dakcy was still full of the missing 
necklace when she went into Miss Gunnings 
room in the evening. The old lady had not 
been so well to-day, and she had been full of 
fancies. When she was full of fancies, the 
doctor prescribed perfect quiet ; the presence 
of a stranger only excited her. Edith would 
not have gone to her then, but she sent for 
her ; she had been inquiring for her all the 

She was sitting in the same place where 
Edith had left her the night before, with her 
head against the wire guard, and the cats 


sleeping on the rug at her feet. Nothing in 
the aspect of the room was changed. 

She did not hft up her head when Edith 
came into the room, but went on talking to 
herself in a low tone. 

* She is not so clear to-day,' Penfold whispered 
to Edith, as she took her seat, her old seat, on 
the opposite side of the fireplace. ' She has 
been talking of her diamonds all night ; she 
wants to put them on. I am sure I don't know 
where she keeps 'em. I've never seen any 
diamonds, and I've lived with her thirty 

* Perhaps she is only wandering,' Edith said, 
with a sigh. 

' If she'd had any, the trustees would have 
taken charge of 'em. They have locked up 
most things, and taken away the keys — every- 
thing that is of value.' 

' Yes,' she said absently, ' I suppose they 
would know.' 

She was wondering whether it would be 


worth while to apply to the trustees and ask 
about the diamonds, the family diamonds, 
which ought of rights to be hers. If they were 
heirlooms, they would descend to her through 
her father, who was the eldest male descendant 
of the Gunnings. They could not possibly go 
to the younger son. If they were hers, and 
she could claim them, what a windfall it would 
be ! They could not have come to her at a 
better time. 

She thought of all this as she sat leaning her 
head against the fire-guard, listening to the old 
woman's disjointed talk. She would not have 
listened to it at any other time, but she listened 
to-day. In spite of her preoccupation, she did 
not lose a word that the old woman was saying. 
Who could tell what clue she might let drop, 
now that her mind was running on the subject? 
It had been a sealed subject for sixty years, 
and now it had come to light. No one living 
had ever heard of the Gunning diamonds. It 
was like discovering a buried treasure. 


Edith could not glean anything from her 
wandering talk, though she listened intently. 
It was about places and people she had never 
heard of, who were dead before she was born ; 
but the name of Edward Darcy dropped from 
her lips more than once. She was so full of the 
past, the old days, that she did not pay any 
attention to her favourites to-night ; she let 
them prowl about the room unnoticed. 

The candles burnt low — there had only been 
candles lit to-night, two wax candles at the 
farther end of the room — and Pen fold sat 
yawning behind her mistress. Edith could see 
her yawning whenever she looked up. 

' You are tired to-night, Penfold,' she said 
kindly — she was always considerate to servants ; 
^ you will be glad to go to bed.' 

' Yes,' the woman said, suppressing a yawn, 
* I shan't be sorry. I have hardly left the room 
a moment to-day. When the candles are burnt 
out she will go to bed.' 

The candles were Penfold's clock. They were 


cut a certain length, and when they were burnt 
out it was time to go to bed. There were 
several clocks in the room, a bracket clock in an 
inlaid tortoiseshell buhl case against the wall, 
and a variety of timepieces on the cabinets, 
and one over the mantelpiece ; but none of them 
were going : they had not gone for years. It 
was one of Miss Gunning's whims not to have 
them wound up. They all pointed to different 
hours, the hours they had stopped at. The 
bracket clock had stopped at five minutes to 
twelve. It had never pointed to any other 
hour since Edith could remember. 

* They will not have burnt out yet,' Edith 
said, looking at the slowly wasting candles ; ' if 
you like to go downstairs for half an hour, I 
will stay here till you come back.' 

' If you are sure you don't mind waiting, 
miss — and you won't leave her a minute — and 
you'll touch the bell if I'm wanted, I should 
like to have a breath of air,' Penfold said, 
getting up. ' She's quiet now ; she'll go on 


talking to herself till I come back. She's not 
likely to want anything ; if she does, you'll be 
sure to ring, miss.' 

' I'll be sure to ring,' Edith said reassuringly. 
* I don't think there will be any necessity, but 
if she is restless I will ring.' 

When Miss Gunnincr's maid had left the 


room, and closed the door behind her, Edith 
tried an experiment. 

* It is very sad about Dora Tremlett's 
necklace,' she said abruptly ; ' I have heard 
to-day that it is lost.' 

* Necklace ? what necklace ?' Miss Gunning- 
asked, stopping in the midst of her disjointed 

* The diamond necklace that Captain Tremlett 
gave his bride for a wedding present. It has 
disappeared most mysteriously. The bride was 
wearing it the night before the wedding, and 
the next day it was gone.' 

* Gone V the old woman repeated ; ' where 
did it go V 


She had quite woke up now ; Edith had 
succeeded in arousing her attention. 

' No one knows. It disappeared. I — I 
wonder whether the Gunning diamonds are 
gone too ? It is years since you saw them ; 
perhaps they, too, have disappeared.' 

She could hardly keep her voice steady ; it 
seemed her only chance. 

' I have not seen them for — for sixty years !' 
said Miss Gunning, sitting up, and striking 
her stick upon the floor ; she always kept her 
stick beside her chair ; she could not walk an 
inch without it. 

* They may be gone now,' Edith said des- 
perately. ' No one can tell what has happened 
to them during these sixty years. Dora only 
lost sight of her diamonds a single night, and 
the next day they were gone.' 

* Gone !' the old woman repeated — ' gone ! 
gone ! There has been no one to take them ; 
they would not have known where to find 


' There was no one to take Dora's necklace — 
it was locked up in a safe ; but it was gone the 
next day.' 

The old woman struck her stick on the floor 
impatiently, and began fumbling among the 
folds of her dress, as if she were searching for 

' You want your keys ?' Edith said eagerly, 
interpreting the motion; 'you are looking for 
your keys ?' 

Miss Gunning nodded her head. 

' They were here just now/ she said weakly ; 
' I always keep them here.' 

She was fumbling about her waist and the 
folds of her dress, as if feeling for something. 
Edith remembered all at once, as she sat watch- 
ing her, a portrait she had seen of her aunt, 
that hung still in one of the rooms below. It 
had been taken in the days of her youth — a 
half-length portrait of a lady in a yellow dress, 
with a chatelaine by her side. One of the long^ 
white hands in the portrait was toying with the 


chatelaine. Edith knew in a moment what her 
aunt was feeling for ; the association with the 
hidden gems had taken her back to the days of 
her youth, to the old chatelaine that she used 
to wear, which had been laid aside for fifty 

' Do you think you could find them if you 
had the key V she said eagerly. 

The old woman was still fumbling at her 
side ; she was not feeling for a pocket — it was 
worn more forward in her days. She would 
not have had to go far to find it ; it would 
not have taken the hour's searching for that 
jin-de-siecle pockets take ; besides, it was not 
the movement that one makes to find a 

. * It used to be here,' she said meditatively ; 
* it was always here ; it has never been off the 

' The key — the key of the cabinet where 
the diamonds are V Edith asked breathlessly. 

The old woman nodded her head. 


'It was on the chain,' she said; 'it never 
left my side.' 

She was still feeling for it when Penfold 
came into the room. 

VOL. I. 



Edith could not rest until she had seen the 
portrait that she had in her mind. She wanted 
to be sure about the chatelaine. 

When the household had sunk into sleep — 
they kept early hours at Gotham — Edith softly 
descended the stairs with a taper in her hand. 
They creaked beneath her soft footsteps, and 
sent ghostly sounds travelling through the 
silent house, while the old Gunnings on the 
walls gloomed down upon her from their dingy 
frames. The big cavernous drawing- room 
looked as dark and chill as a vault by the 
light of her single taper. She shivered as the 


door fell-to behind her, and she stood in the 
midst of the blackness, with a great company 
of chairs and couches reachino^ out their white 
ghostly arms to her. The furniture of the 
room was white and gold, and the walls were 
white, with some faded gilding upon it. The 
room had been shut up so long that the gilding 
on the walls and on the chairs and tables had 
faded, and what had once been white was 
now yellow with age. 

The light of the taper that Edith carried 
seemed only to make the gloom deej)er. The 
white walls and the white arms of the furniture 
seemed to come out of the gloom to meet her, 
and the portraits in their tarnished frames 
peered out of the darkness as she threw the 
feeble flicker of her taper upon them one by 
one. She found the one she wanted, and went 
hurriedly over to it, holding her light aloft. 

It was the newest portrait in the old room ; 
it had not been painted more than sixty years. 
A flat, colourless picture : the yellow dress 


looked colourless in the candlelight. A proud, 
beautiful face, with dark eyes looking coldly 
down, and thin scarlet lips tightly drawn. The 
Gunnings were all of one type — white and cold, 
with a hidden fire smouldering beneath their 
stately calm. 

Edith was quite right about the chatelaine. 
She could not see it very well in that light— it 
looked like a colourless daub of paint ; there 
was something hanging beside the slim waist 
of the woman in the picture — something with 
pendent chains — though she could not make out 
what was hanging to the chains. They were 
indistinct blobs of paint. The artist, whoever 
he was, had not been brought up in the school 
of the pre-Raphaelite painters. 

She was wondering all through the night — 
she could not go to sleep for thinking of it — 
what had become of her aunt's silver chatelaine. 
Most likely the trustees had carried it away, or 
locked it up with the other things. They had 
removed everything of value, and put it in safe 


keeping ; and they had set seals on the locks 
of all the drawers and cabinets. They had left 
nothing about ; they had taken possession of 

Poor old Miss Gunning used to say sometimes, 
in her sane moments — and she was as sane as 
the yice-Chancellor himself at times — that she 
had fallen asleep, and woke up to find herself 
in the hands of lawyers and doctors. 

She had no more authority over the disposal 
of her own property than a stranger. Every- 
thing had been taken from her and put away ; 
if she were not exactly a prisoner in her own 
house, she was a pensioner, living on the money 
that was doled out month by month by her 
lawyers, of the expenditure of which an account 
had to be rendered. 

Edith thought of all this as she lay awake, 
wondering where that chatelaine might be. It 
was not in her aunt's power to make a provision 
for her, not the slenderest provision at her 
approaching marriage — not even a wedding 


present. She knew this quite well ; but if the 
family jewels were not in the hands of the 
trustees, she might give her the diamonds. 
They were hers by right — at least, they were 
her father's. 

She fell asleep revolving the question of the 
whereabouts of the chatelaine, and it was not, 
perhaps, remarkable that she should dream 
about it. Dreams, if we could trace them back, 
are echoes of our waking thoughts, with this 
strange difference — that they reach farther than 
thought itself, and pierce the veil which we are 
unable when awake to raise by a single inch. 

Edith dreamed the exact locality of her aunt's 

If she had been a medium, she could not have 
described its hiding-place more accurately. 

' It is in the oak chest in the gallery, at the 
bottom of the chest, among the dresses,' she 
found herself repeating, as if it had been a 
lesson she had learnt, when she awoke. 

She kept repeating it all the time she was 


dressino' ; she was not at all sure that there 
was anything in it, but she hurried over her 
dressing, to see for herself if her dream were 

She knew the chest in the gallery quite well. 
It was an old oak chest, with some carving over 
the front, and a panelled lid. It had been 
locked as lono- as she could remember, but she 
recollected once, years ago, when a child, seeing 
it open. It was when a party of young people 
were staying in the house, and there were some 
theatricals going on, and those who took part 
in them were arrayed in some old-fashioned 
gowns that were found in the chest. 

She must have been quite a young child at 
the time, for she could not remember the 
theatricals ; she could only recollect seeing the 
chest open, and the gowns taken out. 

Most likely, she told herself, the trustees had 
locked the chest and taken away the key, as 
they had carried away all the other keys. 

She asked Penfold about it after breakfast. 


when she met her coming out of Miss Gunning's 

Penfold shook her head ; she could not re- 
member to have seen it for years. There was 
nothing in the chest, she assured her, but old- 
fashioned gowns — gowns that had belonged to 
her great-grandmother. They had not seen 
the light for over twenty years ; most likely 
the moth had eaten them all up. 

Then Edith had to dissemble. It was for the 
sake of the old fashions that she wanted to see 
the gowns, she told Penfold. She was going to 
act in some charades, and she wanted an old- 
fashioned dress. Nothing could be better than 
one of the old moth-eaten gowns that had be- 
longed to her great-grandmother. 

Penfold put herself out of the way to look 
for the key ; she had a * rummage ' for it, as 
she termed it, after Miss Gunning was dressed 
and she had got her into the bow-room. Edith 
sat with her aunt while Penfold ' rummaged.' 

It was not often that Miss Gunning's maid put 


herself out of the way to oblige her mistress's 
niece. She looked upon her as an interloper. 
Whatever might come to her at her aunt's 
death, she was only here on sufferance now. 
Nothing in the place belonged to her ; she could 
not take a book out of the house without the 
permission of the trustees. 

Penfold remembered quite well having seen 
the key of the chest about, not very recently, 
but since the action of the trustees. She re- 
membered the chest being opened by them and 
the contents examined, and the gentlemen 
walking away and leaving it open. The con- 
tents were part of an old woman's wardrobe ; 
thev had nothino;' to do with the estate. When 
the trustees had gone away, Penfold locked the 
chest and put the key in a place of safety. 
Wherever it was, it was where she had put it. 

It took a good deal of looking for. While 
Edith was about it, she mio^ht as well have 
dreamed where the key of the chest was, as 
well as the chatelaine. 


Penfold did not find the key until the after- 
noon. It was not until near sunset that Edith 
got an opportunity of looking over the things 
in the chest. She did not care to go through it 
— she would have to go quite to the bottom, 
beneath all the dresses — while the maids were 
about, and they were coming and going on 
some errand or another to Miss Gunning's room 
all the afternoon. They were out of the way at 
last, safe out of the way for a good hour, gos- 
siping over their tea in the servants' hall, and 
Penfold was shut up with her mistress. 

There was not much in the oak chest to lock up 
so carefully — nothing but a lot of old-fashioned 
gowns of a past age, fit only to use for dressing 
ujD in charades. They were scarcely fit for that, 
for the moth had got into them and riddled 
them into holes ; if they remained there much 
longer they would be quite eaten up. 

Edith's hands trembled when she came near 
the bottom of the box and had found nothing. 
She threw all the things out in a heap upon the 


floor — a heap of faded, discoloured rags. They 
had no doubt been admh^ed in their time, and 
had been put on with pride and joy, and laid 
aside with regret. Who should say what high 
hopes had beat beneath those ridiculous short- 
waisted bodies, what joys and alarms had 
fluttered the tender breasts under those faded 
tags and laces ? 

Edith did not trive a thouofht to this as she 
went hurriedly through the contents of the oak 
chest. She had come to the bottom, quite to 
the bottom, when she came upon the yellow 
gown that she knew so well — the yellow gown 
in the picture. 

She took it out with a trepidation she 
could not account for. It had got crushed 
and discoloured with lying by, and the pufls 
and furbelows, that were almost grotesque in 
their dimensions in the picture, were quite flat. 

There was nothing beneath the yellow gown ; 
it was the last thing in the chest ; it was quite 
empty when she took it out. 


' There was nothing in the dream after all,' 
Edith told herself impatiently. 

She shook the gown in her hand, as she was 
accustomed to shake out her own dresses after 
a journey, when they had got crushed with 
being tightly packed in a trunk, and as she 
was shaking it something fell out. 

It was the chatelaine, which had been hidden 
away in the folds of the yellow gown. When 
Penfold came out of the room to see how she 
was getting on, Edith was putting the things 
back into the chest. 

* There are no dresses here that are of any 
use to me,' she said. ' You can put them all in 
again, Penfold, and return the key to where you 
found it.' 

When Penfold had gone down to her supper 
in the servants' hall, Edith showed Miss Gunning 
the treasure she had discovered. 

' Do you remember this. Aunt Maria ?' she 
said, laying the chatelaine in the old woman's 
lap. ' Is this what you were looking for ?' 


Miss Gunning was sitting in her usual atti- 
tude, with her head leaning forward upon her 
breast, and she was dozing. She dozed a good 
deal during the day. She fell asleep in a 
minute, in the midst of talking, and she woke 
up just as suddenly. She woke up now when 
Edith put the chatelaine in her lap. 

' Ye-es,' she said, fingering it with tremulous 
eagerness. ' How should I forget it ? I always 
wear it. I could not do without it. My keys 
— where are my keys ? They were here yester- 
day ' 

Then Edith's heart sank. One of the chains 
was broken ; whatever had once hung upon it 
had been taken away. There were only a few 
trinkets left hanging upon it — a gilt needle-case, 
a pair of rusty scissors, and a little twisted 

' Here is a key. Aunt Maria, a dear little 
key ; what is it the key of?' she said with 
breathless eagerness. 

She couldn't understand dreaming about it> 


having been favoured with a distinct revela- 
tion, and nothing coming of it. 

* This V the old woman said, shading her eyes 
with her hand, and looking at the little gilt 
key against the light. ' I ought to know — I 
use it every day ' 

* Where do you use it V Edith asked, in a 
voice she could not keep steady. ' Is it the 
key — of — of the case where the diamonds are 
kept — the Gunning diamonds V 

The old woman nodded. 

' Is it in this room V 

The old woman looked slowly round the 
room, shading her eyes with her hand, though 
the light was dim — only the light of the two 
wax candles burning in the sconces at the 
farther end of the room. Edith watched her. 
For a moment her eyes seemed to linger in a 
corner — a recessed corner — near the window, 
upon one of the tall bureaus against the wall 
— an old-fashioned marqueterie bureau with 
fanciful designs inlaid in coloured woods. It 


had a round sloping top and slender legs ; 
Edith never remembered having seen it opened. 

She jumped up from her seat suddenly, when 
she saw where Miss Gunning's eyes were linger- 
ing, and went over to it ; she was trembling all 

' Is it here V she said in her low, eager voice, 
* is it the key of this ?' 

The old woman did not answer ; she sat 
shading her eyes, and looking in a bewildered 
way round the room. 

* Will you try V 

She never knew how it happened : it all 
happened in a moment. The old woman had 
risen from her seat, and was hobbling across 
the room. She was leaning upon her stick, and 
walking without help — she generally wanted a 
good deal of supporting on each side. Edith 
had not seen her walking alone for years — she 
had always leaned for support on another — but 
to-day she was walking alone. 

Miss Gunning came over to the marqueterie 


bureau where Edith was standing. It seemed 
to her that the old woman was crossing the 
room alone by some mysterious hypnotism in 
answer to her call ; that she had compelled 
her by force of will — that she had no alterna- 

' Here is the lock,' she said ; ' shall I open it 
for you V 

Miss Gunning had brought over the chate- 
laine, and she fumbled helplessly for the key 
— the key she had come to try. Edith found 
it for her, and put it in the lock, which it fitted 
perfectly. It was a very curious old twisted 
key ; it could only have been made to fit one 

* Will you turn it, or shall I V she asked in 
a dry voice that sounded to her like another's. 

The old woman essayed to turn the key with 
her weak, shaking fingers ; but they had no 
strength in them, and Edith turned it in the 
lock, and the bureau fell open. 

It was exactly like a thousand other old 


pieces of furniture of the same date ; there 
were the usual number of pigeon-holes and 
drawers, and the little locked cupboard in the 
middle that always gives promise of some 
hidden treasure. 

There was no treasure hidden behind the 
little inlaid door, for the lock was broken and 
the door was off its hinges. There were a lot 
of papers inside, dusty old papers tied up in 
bundles, and some letters scattered about ; and 
there was a faint, musty air of some pungent 
odour that had years ago hung about those 
yellow missives. It had been a perfume once, 
but now it was like the musty odour of a newly 
opened tomb. 

Miss Gunning put aside the papers — she did 
not even look at them, she tossed them aside 
impatiently — and Edith saw that the space 
within was empty, quite empty ; there was 
nothing concealed there. She did not speak — 
she would not have spoken for the world — but 
she watched and waited. 

VOL. I. 6 


And while she waited the lean, trembling 
fingers were fumbling inside the empty space ; 
they were feeling for something, but there was 
nothing visible — nothing that Edith's straining 
eyes could see. There was a sliding sound, the 
faint creak of a shifting panel, and the floor of 
the recess had slid aside, and revealed an aper- 
ture beneath. 

It was a hiding-place that no one would have 
suspected. There were some loose packages 
inside ; not a casket or case of any kind, but 
some loose 23ackages. The groping fingers 
dived into the aperture, and brought out a 
package, and unwrapped it with feeble haste. 
It was a miniature, Edith saw — the portrait of 
a man — and it was set with diamonds. She 
could see them flashing in that dim light, as 
Miss Gunning took it out of the wrapper. 

She started back with a feeble cry when she 
had taken it out of the wrapper, and pushed it 
away from her. 

^ I did not think to see it again,' she said, or 


rather moaned. ' Oh ! why did you make m.e 
take it out ? It should have been Edith's, not 
mine ; he was her husband, not mine.' 

She pushed the papers hurriedly back, but 
she did not close the sliding panel in her haste, 
and hobbled painfully back to her chair. 

She had got so infirm in those few moments 
that Edith had to support her ; she could not 
have reached her chair without help. There 
was only time to hastily close the bureau, and 
go to the old woman's help ; and she had scarcely 
got her back to her chair, when Penfold came 
up from her supper. 

Miss Gunning was trembling all over when 
Penfold came back, and she was muttering to 

' Edith's husband, not mine,' she was saying 
under her breath ; * mine, if Edith had not 
come between us. She had her reward — she 
had her reward.' 

It was always a consolation to her that the 
ill-fated Edith had had her reward. 



The marqueterie bureau containing the diamonds 
— the diamonds that Edith was dying to see — 
was unlocked, and the key was in her posses- 
sion. She had sUpped the chatelaine out of 
sight when Penfold came into the room ; she 
had only just slipped it out of sight in time. 
She could not lock the bureau until Miss Gun- 
ning had gone to bed, and taken Penfold away 
with her. 

It seemed to Edith that her aunt would never 
go to bed, that she would sit there muttering 
to herself all night. 

She went at last, and left Edith staring into 


the fire, with one of the white cats on her lap. 
Blue-Eye's aunt had conceived an affection for 
her mistress's niece — an unrequited affection. 
Edith was nursing her to-night ; it was some- 
thing to do, to smooth her soft fur and pull 
her ears ; it kept her nervous fingers from 
betraying their impatience. 

When Miss Gunning and her maid had gone 
at last, Edith jumped up quickly and went over 
to the bureau. She jumped up so quickly that 
Blue-Eye's aunt was deposited in a most un- 
feeling way on the floor. 

The miniature in its sparkling frame was on 
the top of the heap of papers, where Miss 
Gunnino: had fluno- it down. Edith took it 
up eagerly ; it was her grandfather's likeness, 
the only likeness she had ever seen of him ; 
but that did not account for her eagerness. 
It was set in gold, as a miniature, and outside 
the original gold setting was the brilliant frame. 
The frame did not belong to it ; it was complete 
without it. Edith remarked this as she stood 


examining it by the light of the wax candles, 
which were already burning low in their 
sockets. She could not see it very well, as 
the candles were at the other end of the room, 
and she closed the bureau and went over to 
the light to see it better. While she was still 
standing there, with the miniature in her hand, 
she heard the handle of the door turn and 
someone come in. She had only time to slip 
the miniature in her pocket before Penfold 
pushed aside the screen. She had come back 
for something that her mistress had left behind, 
and she looked suspiciously at Edith standing 
blushing guiltily beneath the light. Edith felt 
herself getting hot, and felt the unwonted 
colour rushing to her face. She had nothing 
to be ashamed of, she told herself, that she 
should get crimson like a thief because a wait- 
ing-maid had surprised her. 

When Penfold had left the room, she was too 
shaken to attempt any moi-e discoveries that 
night. She pushed back the panel and heaped 


a bundle of letters above it, and locked the 
bureau. She did not put back the miniature ; 
she wanted to examine it at leisure in her own 
room, and she took it away with her — the 
miniature and the chatelaine. 

As she crossed the room, she was conscious of 
an uncomfortable feeling — something rubbed 
against her and startled her. She w^as so 
ridiculously nervous, that it was as much as she 
could do to keep herself from crying out. It 
was only Blue-Eye's aunt rubbing against her, 
and all the white cats on the walls were looking 
down ujDon her, and watching her with their 
glassy eyes. 

In the seclusion of her own room, Edith ex- 
amined the miniature. 

It was the likeness of a man of twenty- 
five or thirty-five — of any age — a hlase man, 
with a blonde moustache and fair, wav}^ hair, 
which he wore long, and falling, in the fashion 
of the day, over his forehead. Distinctly a hand- 
some man, but not a face to trust — a selfish, 


sensual face, with not a line of self-denial 
in it. 

But it was not the face that Edith was so 
deeply interested in ; she could not be expected 
to care much for her grandfather who had died 
thirty years before she was born. It was the 
setting of the miniature that Edith was ex- 
amining so eagerly. It was an old-fashioned 
open setting of brilliants, and it was too big for 
the portrait it enclosed. It was of much earlier 
date than the plain gold setting of the minia- 
ture, and had been rather clumsily adapted 
to it. 

Edith was unconsciously trying to make it 
fit — the clumsy contrivance jarred upon her — 
when the miniature slipped out of the frame 
upon the floor, and left the glittering circle of 
brilliants in her hand. There was something 
else on the floor when she stooped to pick 
it up — one of the brilliants had fallen out, 
too, and lay glittering at her feet. The silver 
setting had been bent to make it fit the 


miniature, and the delicate filigree work had 
given way, and several of the stones were 

' If these were real,' Edith told herself, as she 
shook the loose stones out of the frame upon 
her dressing-table, ' they would be worth a good 
deal. If Dora Tremlett's necklace was worth 
thousands of pounds, these would be worth 
something — hundreds of pounds, perhaps ; who 
could say V 

She turned quite pale at the thought ; then 
a dreadful fear came into her mind. Suppose 
they were paste ? There was a great deal of 
paste worn in the days of the First Empire. 
People went to Court in paste buckles, and 
great ladies were not above wearing paste — 
real old French paste — on their persons. It 
was quite possible that this likeness-frame was 
only set with paste. 

Edith set that dreadful doubt at rest the 
following day. 

She went up to town early in the morning ; 


she started before the post came in — before the 
letters were delivered at Gotham House. If 
she had waited for her letters, perhaps she 
might have changed her plans. There was a 
letter from Mrs. Bellew, Dora's mother, in the 
bag, about the lost necklace. Captain Tremlett 
was making a great fuss about it. He had 
communicated with the police, and detectives 
had been sent down from London to Hereford 
to make inquiries. They had found out nothing 
as yet, but they had made a great many in- 
quiries. They had inquired, among other things, 
about Miss Darcy, the young lady who locked 
them up in the safe in Mrs. Bellew's dressing- 
room, and who had brought them down in the 
morning. Perhaps she could give some informa- 
tion they lacked ; at any rate, they had asked 
for her address, which Mrs. Bellew could not 
very well withhold. She hoped her ^ dear 
Edith ' w^ould not mind, and that they would 
not trouble her very much ; something was said 
about an interview. If the men called, she 


hoped ' darling Edith ' would not mind telling 
them all she knew. It was only a matter of 
form ; the inquiries had to be made before the 
men could do anything. For her own part, she 
was sick of the necklace ; she had been almost 
worried to death about it. 

Edith was in ignorance of this letter, and of 
the visit that was to be made to her, when she 
started on that misty autumn morning for town. 
She arrived in London quite early, and she had 
the day before her. She had a good deal to do ; 
she would not have a minute to spare. She had 
a lot of shopping to do — the shopping she had 
put off when she came up to town after the 
wedding ; she could not put it off any longer. 
There were all the things for her trousseau to 
buy. If she were to be married in October, she 
had no time to lose. 

Before she bought her wedding things, she 
wanted to arrange about the money. It would 
be ridiculous to launch out into extravagant 
purchases, and have only her allowance to meet 


it with — to cripple herself for years to come at 
a time when she would want the money most, 
when she could not spare a penny of it. On 
the other hand, she could not marry without a 
trousseau. She could not go to the man she 
loved with only the clothes she stood upright 
in. It was indispensable, if there were to be a 
wedding, that she should have proper clothes, 
that she should not disgrace her husband by 
her shabbiness. Besides, as has been already 
hinted, she was no longer in her first youth ; 
the attractions of girlhood had left her, 
and she looked old for her years. It was 
of the highest importance that she should be 
well dressed ; it was an absolute necessity. 

In the face of all this there was but one 
thing to be done — to get money from some- 
where. Get money ! It is so easy to say, 
' Get money ' — but how ? 

Edith was asking herself the question all the 
way up to town on that misty autumn morning. 
She had the railway-carriage all to herself, and 


she thought of nothing but that vexed ques- 
tion of ways and means as the misty fields 
and the hedges sHpped by her ; she was think- 
ing what she should say in that interview 
she had arranged with her trustee, and, in 
the event of his being obdurate, what she 
should do. 

She drove straight from the station to 
Lincoln's Inn. The interview was fixed for 
ten o'clock, and she reached there before the 
tiaie appointed. If there is one thing in the 
world more disagreeable than being late at an 
appointment — an unpleasant appointment — it is 
being too early ; sitting amid painfully sug- 
gestive surroundings, in a depressing atmo- 
sphere, going over beforehand the impending 
interview ; feeling one's spirit and courage and 
independence slipping away, and all the fine 
things one was going to say getting hopelessly 

Edith sat waiting in a dark ofiice for Mr, 
Tulkington's appearance — Mr. Tulkington was 


her trustee under her father's will — until every- 
thing she had come to say had slipped from her 
memory, and she felt herself getting dazed and 
bewildered, and her courage had oozed out at 
her fingers' -ends. 

She had to wait in that dreary office an hour, 
staring at the empty grate, and the maps on 
the wall— maps or charts — and the row of tin 
boxes on the shelves, with names painted in 
white letters upon them — the names of Mr. 
Tulkington's clients. There was no tin box 
with the name of ' Darcy ' upon it on the 
shelves. Perhaps she was not a sufficiently 
important client ; the papers relating to her 
insisrnificant affairs could be stuffed into a 

Mr. Tulkington came in in a great bustle ; he 
had two or three people waiting for him, and he 
had not much time to spare for Edith. He was 
not an old-fashioned gallant lawyer, who had 
always nice courtly speeches ready to soften 
the asperities of the law to his fair clients. 


He was a grumpy old man, and he had an 
unpleasant habit of looking at his watch 
every few minutes if an interview wearied 

' I was detained,' he said by way of apologv, 
when he came in and found that Edith had 
been waitinof there an hour for him. ' I was 
called in a hurry to execute a document, and I 
could not cret awav before. I had to wait 
for a sicrnature ; the man died a moment 
after he had signed it, while I was there. 
It was important that I should have seen him 
sign it.' 

Edith shivered. She had the picture of 
the dying man propped up to sign that docu- 
ment, and the people — the hungry relatives — 
crowding eagerly round the bed, waiting for 
his signature, before her eyes all through the 

' It's a will I've come to see you about, Mr. 
Tulkington,' she began with some hesitation — 
* my father's will. I want you to read it over^ 


and see — if — if it admits of any advance being 
made to me — only a small advance — out of the 

The lawyer shook his head. 

* I have no need to read it, Miss Edith ; I 
remember the terms of the will quite well. It 
is not often I accept a trust, a personal trust, 
but I accepted it to oblige your father. I am 
not likely to forget. The provisions of the will 
put it out of my power to make an advance, 
to advance one penny beyond the payment of 
the interest. You have that regularly. Miss 
Edith ' 

* Yes, I have that, such as it is,' Edith inter- 
rupted bitterly. ' It is not a fourth of what it 
was at my mother's death, and it has been 
growing less and less every year. If it goes on 
dwindling as it has done, there will soon be 
nothing left.' 

' You must blame the rupee, the depreciation 
in the rupee, and the failure of the colonial 
banks, my dear young lady — not me,' the 


lawyer said, rubbing his hands together as if he 
were washing them. 

It was a little habit he had. He was mixed 
up with so many people's concerns, and when 
they were troublesome he washed his hands of 

' I am not blaming anyone,' Edith said 
meekly ; ' it is my luck. Everything slips 
through my fingers. But just now I have an 
— an urgent, a special need for money, for a 
little advance — say a hundred pounds.' 

' If it were a hundred pence I could not go 
beyond the terms of the will,' the lawyer said, 
and then he took out his watch. 

Edith knew exactly what that meant, and 
she came to the point. 

' I am going to be married, Mr. Tulkington,' 
she said, and a fine blush spread over her pale 
face. ' I am going to be married in a few 
weeks, and I want the money to buy my 
wedding clothes.' 

He ought to have been touched by the 

VOL. I. 7 


appeal ; he ought to have sat down and written 
a cheque for a hundred pounds, for five hundred 
pounds, immediately. He did nothing of the 
kind. His heart was as hard as a flint, and as 
rough as Esau's hand. 

' I am sorry I can't help you, Miss Edith,' he 
said, washing his hands of the trousseau she 
was pleading for — washing them with decided 
relish ; ' I can't go beyond my client's instruc- 
tions. There is no provision made in the will 
for such an event ; the interest will continue to 
be paid to you after your marriage the same as 

' But surely I can have the interest, twelve 
months' interest, in advance ? There will be no 
risk in that, and it will not be exceeding your 

Edith pleaded desperately. 

' There would be great risk in anticipating 
your income ; it would never do !' the old 
lawyer said, shaking his head. ' You might die 
meanwhile, and there would be no security ; 


the jDrlncipal would go at once to Mr. Richard 
Darcy's children. There are seven of them, 
I believe — seven or ten ; they would not be 
likely to recognise a liability — an unwarrantable 
liability — on the estate. Why not apply to your 
uncle, Mr. Richard, for assistance V 
Edith shook her head. 

' We are not very good friends,' she said, 
wath a thrill of nervous impatience in her voice. 
' I should not under any circumstances apply 
for help to my uncle's family.' 

She rose to go as she finished speaking ; it 
was no use prolonging the interview : the old 
man was evidently not going to help her. 

' I hope I may congratulate you upon its 
being a desirable match ; that, this initial difti- 
culty of the trousseau being overcome, there 
will be no further cause for anxious thought on 
the subject of ways and means V he said, as he 
went to the door with her. 

It was not very clearly put, but Edith under- 
stood him. 


' Then, I'm sure you may not congratulate 
me,' she said brusquely; 'for there will be cause 
for very anxious thought on the subject of ways 
and means. I am marrying a man without a 

With this Parthian dart she took her leave, 
and left the dried-up little lawyer on his door- 
step washing his hands of his improvident 



After that interview with her trustee, Edith 
Darcv could have sat down on the first door- 
step she came to in Lincoln's Inn and wept. The 
spectacle would have been an unusual one at 
that hour of the morning : a high-bred, haughty 
young lady — she looked distinctly haughty, 
though her heart was in her boots — dressed in 
the height of the prevailing fashion, wailing upon 
the doorstep of her family solicitor, or of some- 
body else's family solicitor. 

Perhaps she was not the only woman who 
had felt inclined to weep when she left 
those doors — who had wanted to cree23 away 


Into some quiet corner and let her tears have 
free course. There ought to be a wailing- 
place near all the courts of law, and the 
chambers of those who interj^ret the law, where 
unhappy clients who have suffered wrong, and 
can find no redress, might ease their over- 
burdened hearts before they go their way 
and get lost in the common crowd. The Jews 
of old had wailing-places, where people, whose 
feelings were not under control, could make 
as much noise as they liked, without being 
requested to 'move on.' 

Edith did not wait to be requested to ' move 
on '; she went on her way — on foot. She had 
suddenly remembered a little business she had 
in the City. If this interview with her trustee 
had been propitious she might not have remem- 
bered it. 

The business took some time to transact, 
and when it was over Edith did her shopping. 
She bought most of the things she wanted for 
her trousseau. She knew exactly what things 


she wanted, and she knew exactly where to get 

When she had bought her clothes she looked 
at some furniture ; she did not buy it — she 
looked at it. When she had finished her shop- 
ping she kept another appointment— her ap- 
pointment with her lover. She had crammed 
a good deal into that busy day, and love was 
reserved to the last, to crown it all. 

She met him in the Army and Navy Stores. 
Perhaps there is no j)lace in London where a 
meeting, a meeting between lovers, can be more 
conveniently arranged than at ' the Stores.' 
It is private, but not too private, and there is 
always an air of chance meeting, of mere acci- 
dent, if one happens to come across a mutual 
friend. It is not like meeting in the Park or 
at a picture-gallery ; there is no design in it, 
and the absence of a chaperon is not re- 

Edith was sitting at one of the little tables 
in the tea-room, consulting her tablets, when 


her lover came in. He knew exactly where to 
find her ; he came straight to her. 

He came to her with his eyes shining, and a 
look on his face that no one could mistake. 
Everyone must have seen that he was a lover. 
There were a good many people in the tea- 
room, and they all looked up when he entered, 
and the girls watched him go over to that 
corner by the window where Edith was sitting 
looking at her tablets. They couldn't think 
what he could see in that dowdy girl, with her 
pale, proud face and her absent, preoccupied 
air. But she was pale ;no longer, nor pre- 
occupied ; a transformation had come over her, 
one of her sudden transformations, and her 
cheeks were glowing, and a new light had come 
into her eyes. The sudden colour that came 
into her cheeks was so bright that anyone who 
had seen them a minute ago would have said 
that she had painted them. The colour of her 
eyes had changed, too ; they were such a vary- 
ing shade of black, or brown, or hazel, that one 


could never tell their exact hue ; but her beauti- 
ful black eyebrows and black lashes made them 
look dark at all times. Her eyes did not 
change their colour for everybody, and Nature 
did not paint her cheeks with that rich carmine 
for every comer — she was more sparing of her 
colours — hence it was not remarkable that few 
people could understand what Captain Stan- 
hope could see in Miss Darcy. 

Perhaj)s he saw something in the woman he 
loved that nobody else saw — an ideal of his 
own, a high ideal — or he wouldn't have fallen 
down and worshipped it. He saw nothing in 
Edith but perfection ; he had never met with 
a woman so perfect in his eyes. She did not 
come up to his standard of Avoman ; she 
created it. 

He was a big, bashful, slow-witted fellow 
Avith a military bearing, standing over six feet 
in his shoes, with the shoulders and limbs that 
a man of six feet should have. 

His closelv-cut hair was lio-ht brown, with a 


distinct wave in it ; he wore a light moustache, 
and his eyes were gray, a rather steely -blue 
gray, and steady ; there was not a twinkle of 
fun in them ; he took everything au seneux. 
His face, which had been fair, was tanned with 
foreign service ; his regiment had not long re- 
turned from India. 

He came towards Edith, sitting in her corner, 
with his eyes shining, and his heart beating 

' My darling !' he said under his breath, 
when their hands met ; and then that drapcau 
rouge had spread over her face. 

He had to content himself with that hand- 
clasp ; he could not very well take her in his 
arms in the tea-room, before all the people. 
The outraged British matrons present would 
have objected, and there might have been a 

If there was anything in the world that 
Edith's lover desired to avoid, it was a scene. 
He had, for a man, a ridiculous nervous shrink- 


ing from notoriety, a horrible dread of ridicule ; 
but he could not keep that love-light out of 
his eyes as he came towards her through the 
crowded room. He dropped her hand as soon 
as he could get his fingers to let it go ; he 
would not have let people see him detaining it 
for the world. 

' Well,' he said, when the greeting was over, 
' have you had a busy day ? Are you nearly 
ready V 

' I shall be ready in October,' Edith answered, 
with a tremulous quiver of her under lip, ' if — 
if you think it must be so soon, Derek.' 

' There is nothing to wait for,' he said eagerly. 
' If we put it ofP now, we shall have to wait 
for the spring. We shall be no richer in the 

Edith sighed. 

* I don't think we ought to marry at all, 
dear,' she said, with a weak attempt at a smile 
— ' at any rate, not for years — not till ' 

* Not till we have grown old and are gray- 


headed !' he interrupted impatiently. ' Perhaps 
you will have changed your mind if we wait 
many years ; you won't be satisfied with a 
captain of a line regiment who has nothing but 
his pay ' 

' Hush !' she said, putting her hand softly on 
his arm, ' hush ! I am not likely to change. I 
was thinking of you. You will lose so much, 
and you ought to do such great things. You 
will disappoint all your friends.' 

He didn't exactly laugh aloud, but he laughed 
a low, pleasant, honest laugh. 

' I don't care whom I disappoint, as long as 
I do not disappoint you,' he said tenderly. 

His voice thrilled her, and her eyes grew 
suddenly moist, and her lips were trembling. 
There was nothing more said about putting it 
off There was a look of beautiful, inexpressible 
affection in her eyes as she smiled at her lover 
through her tears across that little marble- 
topped tea-table — a look he had never seen on 
any woman's face before. 


* Give her up ! By Jove !' he told hhnself, 
' I would not give her up for the whole 
world !' 

He was not at all the sort of fellow that 
anyone who knew Edith best would have 
singled out as her choice. He was the last 
person in the world they would have expected 
her to choose. 

But perhaps she hadn't chosen. Perhaps the 
choice had been on his side : the love, the devo- 
tion, the tenderness — call it what you will — 
that women go down before. Edith had gone 
down before the love she read in the blue eyes 
of this big, slow-witted giant. She hadn't had 
so much love in her life that she could afford to 
slight it, and she knew the real thing when she 
saw it. 

She had not had many lovers in her time ; 
she was not the girl to have lovers. She did 
not lay herself out to please j)eople. For a 
woman of — well, never mind her age — who had 
arrived at years of discretion, she was singularly 


free from the wiles and little fascinating ways 
that some girls practise from their cradles. Edith 
had nothing to attract lovers. Men do not 
care for grave faces, and a hard voice, and rare 
smiles ; they like a caressing voice, or a charm- 
ing treble with a reedy thrill in it, and an 
April face radiant with smiles and blushes, and 
eyes that say a good deal, and that mean a 
great deal more. Edith had none of these 
fascinating things ; but when she was moved 
her beautiful dark eyes seemed to grow darker 
and brighter, and she had a tender, tremulous 
way with her mouth. 

Whatever other men had seen in her, Derek 
Stanhope saw in her what he had never seen in 
any woman before. And Edith ? Well, Edith 
never knew how it happened. Perhaps it was 
the magic of the love that filled his heart that 
won her. A man may not be very clever or 
very capable ; there is no need whatever for 
him to be handsome — some women have a posi- 
tive dislike to physical beauty in a man ; but 


he must have something they want. They 
do not all want the same thing, thank 
Heaven ! 

Edith had somewhere deep down in her heart 
an aching want she had never really admitted 
to herself; she wanted the touch of a hand, 
the sound of a voice, different from the hand- 
clasps or the voices about her. She wanted the 
sympathy of just one person whose presence to 
her was different from the presence of every 
other human being in the world. She found 
what she wanted in the jjerson of a heavy, 
slow-witted captain of a line regiment. 

The big, awkward, gentle-natured soldier 
had nothing to recommend him but his love ; 
he hadn't a penny in the world besides his 
commission. Edith micrht have been in her 


teens for the improvidence she displayed in 
marrying upon such a ridiculous prospect. 

They went through the furniture galleries of 
the Army and Navy Stores together, picking 
out chairs and tables like a couple of children 


furnishing a doll's-house. There was a delight- 
ful lounging chair that Edith had set her heart 
upon, that she had quite made up her mind to 
buy for Captain Stanhope's smoking-room — her 
first purchase in housekeeping. She made her 
lover ' try it on ' — she called it ' trying on ' — 
and see how it suited him. 

* It's an awfully comfortable chair, Edie,' he 
said, when he got himself reluctantly out of it, 
' but it's beyond our figure. We shall have to 
give up all thoughts of chairs of our own for the 
present, and go into rooms, furnished rooms, for 
a year or two.' 

Then Edith unfolded her plans. 

^ I don't think we need do that, dear,' she 
said, hanging her head. ' It will be cheaper to 
take a flat, and — and furnish it. It will save a 
great deal in the end.' 

' Furnish it !' he said ruefully. ' I don't see 
how we are to manage the furnishing, unless we 
give up our trip. If we stayed at home this 
winter we might ' 


' We need not stay at home,' she said, inter- 
rupting him. ' I think we can manage the 
furniture very well.' 

' The deuce you do ! Have you come into a 
fortune, Edie ?' 

' I — I have seen my trustee,' sVie said, 

There was a little catch in her voice, and the 
words did not come easily. 

' And he has come down handsomely ? Why, 
this is quite unexpected ; you did not think he 
would do anything.' 

' I did not know the terms of mv father's 


will ; he — he did not lead me to expect that — 
he — would — be — generous.' 

Edith's voice was not quite steady ; she 
could not keep it steady. There was a lump 
in her throat that was keeping the words 

' And he has come down handsomely after 

' I don't know — about — about being hand- 

VOL. I. 8 


some, but we shall be able to manage the 

After this, Edith and her lover went through 
a great many departments where tables, and 
chairs, and sideboards, and couches are sold ; 
and they Inspected some carpets It would take 
a long time to decide upon carpets ; carpets and 
curtains require such serious consideration, so 
many things have to be taken into account, 
that they cannot be dismissed hastily. Having 
settled upon certain articles, the lovers put 
off the curtains and carpets for another day. 

' I shall have to come up to town so many 
times during the next few weeks,' Edith said ; 
' we shall have plenty of o23j)ortunities of 
choosing the other things.' 

She did not say it very heartily ; she couldn't 
put any of the rapture a bride should have in 
choosing the furniture for her future home into 
that hurried selection. There was something 
unreal about it, as if she were buying things in 
a dream ; and all the time she was going up 


and down those everlasting stairs at the Stores 
her heart was going pit-a-pat, as if she had 
never climbed a flio^ht of stairs before in her 

Of course it was the stairs I 



Edith's lover saw her into the train for St. 
Oswald's. He drove with her in a hansom from 
the Army and Navy Stores to the Great Eastern 
Station, and he waited with her on the platform 
until the train started. 

She had only taken a single ticket up to 
town, and Captain Stanhope had to take her 
ticket for the return journey. As she waited in 
the booking-office while he got her ticket — he 
had to take his turn at the end of a line of 
people ; there were a good many people going 
by the train — a gentleman in the crowd spoke 
to her. 


* Can I take your ticket for St. Oswald's V he 
asked her. 

He rather startled her, though nothing could 
have been more civil than his offer and the way 
he made it. 

' Thank you, someone has already taken it/ 
she said stiffly. 

And she turned away. 

* Who was that man who spoke to you V her 
lover asked, as he put her in her carriage. 

' I don't know — a stranger ; he offered to take 
my ticket.' 

When the train had steamed out of the 
station, Edith asked herself who the man could 
be who had spoken to her, and how he knew 
that she was going to St. Oswald's. She could 
not remember to have seen his face before ; he 
was an entire stranger to her, and he knew her 
destination. It was most probably somebody 
belonging to St. Oswald's — a bank clerk, or a 
tradesman, or someone engaged in business 
in the town — who knew her, but whom she 


would not be likely to remember. She could 
not be expected to know everyone in St. 

She thought about the man all through the 
journey, when she ought to have been thinking 
of the events of the day. She had quite enough 
in such a full day to occupy her thoughts. 
There had been the interview with her trustee, 
and another interview of a more satisfactory 
character later on, at a place of business in the 
City ; and then there had followed the shop- 
ping, the purchase of her wedding clothes, 
the meeting with her lover, the inspection 
of the chairs and tables and couches for ' the 
flat,' and the drive back in the dusk to the 

With all this to think of, Edith's mind, 
whether she would or not, persisted in bringing 
up the image of the man in the booking-office, 
and his ridiculous question, ' Can I take your 
ticket for St. Oswald's V 

She reached home tired and dispirited. She 


was more nervous and depressed than she cared 
to acknowledge, and when she once reached her 
own room she did not leave it ao-ahi that niofht. 
Miss Gunning was just the same, she learned 
from the maid who broucrht in her tea, and she 
had been asking for her all the day. Somebody 
had called to see her while she had been away. 
It was a gentleman who had asked for her ; he 
had called early in the day, and he had inquired 
by what train she was expected back. He had 
not given his name ; he had not even said that 
he would call again. The maid was quite sure 
that it was no one belonging to St. Osw^ald's, 
no one asking for a subscription. It was a 
stranger ; she was sure that she had never seen 
him before. 

Edith went to bed earlv, but she could not 
rest. She tossed uneasily till daylight, and 
then she fell into a troubled sleep, and dreamed, 
not of her lover, and the trousseau she had been 
buying, but of the man who had accosted her 
at the railway station ; his voice was ringing in 


her ears when she awoke in the mornhig. He 
was asking her the same question — if he should 
take her ticket to St. Oswald's. 

The servant by some oversight had not given 
Edith her letter overnight — the letter that had 
come from Mrs. Bellew during her absence. 
She found it on the breakfast-table when she 
went into her sitting-room the next morning. 
This explained the visit of the stranger yester- 
day : he had called about Dora Tremlett's 
missing necklace. 

He called again during the morning, while 
Edith was looking over her tablets, and reckon- 
ing up the things she had bought the day before. 
They came to a great deal more than she had 
imagined, than she had reckoned upon — to 
more than double the amount. It is so easy to 
lose count when one is buying things ; they 
add up in a most unaccountable way. She 
looked grave when the unpleasant total stared 
her in the face. She was still looking grave 
when she went downstairs to see the stran^rer 


who had called ; she was thinking of the figures 
that had stared her in the face, and how the 
things had mounted up. 

The servant who opened the door had shown 
' the gentleman ' into the dining-room. It was 
not a room that was often used now, and it had 
a dreary, forlorn look about it in the morning 
light. The curtains were shrouded in holland 
wrappers, and the old leather-covered chairs 
were ranged against the wall, and there was a 
vast expanse of dark shining mahogany. It 
was a dreary place at the best of times. All 
the furniture was old-fashioned, and of that 
dark-hued mahogany which grows darker with 
age. There was a massive sideboard — a big 
ugly Georgian sideboard — at one end of the 
room, with two funereal-looking urns upon it, 
in dark-fluted mahogany, that might have held 
the ashes of the black-browed Gunnings who 
hung upon the walls. 

The stranger was studying the portraits on 
the walls when Edith came in. He turned round 


when the door opened, and bowed to her in an 
old-fashioned courtly way. He was a man of 
middle age, with a prematurely bald head, 
rather stooping in his gait, and he wore gold- 
rimmed spectacles — a commonplace sort of man 
with rather superior manners. 

' I am sorry to disturb you so early,' he said, 
as he placed a chair for Edith ; the chairs were 
all set against the wall, and he brought one over 
and set it for her beside the table in such a 
way that the light from the window fell upon 
her face. 

He could not have helped remarking, if he were 
a physiognomist, that she was looking pale and 
harassed, that there were dark rims beneath 
her eyes. This he saw, because every line of 
her face was visible to him in that cold, search- 
ing light. 

• The stranger began the interview by apolo- 
gizing for the errand that had brought him 

' My name is Finch, ma'am,' he said, by way 


of introducing himself. ' I did not send up a 
card, as the name was not known to you. I 
am here to make inquiries about the diamond 
necklace that was lost at Nunwell on the 
morning of Mrs. Tremlett's wedding ' 

' How do you know it was lost in the morn- 
ing V Edith interrupted eagerly ; she had her 
own idea about the loss. ' How can you tell at 
what time in the day it disappeared V 

The words had escaped her ; she did not 
intend to show so much interest : the loss 
of the diamonds had nothing to do with. 

The detective noted her eagerness. 

' We have no means of know^ing: at what time 
the diamonds were really stolen ; w^e only know 
at what time the loss was discovered,' he said 
dryly. ' We want you to assist our investiga- 
tion with any facts connected with the dis- 
appearance of the necklace that you can 

' There is very little to tell,' Edith said rather 


shortly ; she did not hke the tone the man had 
taken, and she did not hke the way he stared 
at her, while he was speaking, behind his gold- 
rimmed glasses. ' I can tell you all I know 
about it in a very few words.' 

And then she gave him a short circumstantial 
account of the discovery of the loss of the 
necklace. She told him all she could re- 

' You took the jewelry up to the safe on 
the eve of the wedding ; do you remember 
locking the safe after you ? Sometimes these 
safes are difficult to shut.' 

* Of course I shut it ; I stayed behind to lock 
it. But I am not sure about carrying the neck- 
lace upstairs ; I carried some of the wedding 
presents, and Miss Bellew — she was Miss Belle w 
then — carried the others. I cannot be sure 
which of us carried the case with the dia- 
monds. I rather think Miss Bellew carried it.' 

* Exactly ; that point has to be ascer- 


Mr. Finch made a note in his pocket-book, 
and then he asked Edith some more ques- 

' You are sure the necklace was in the case 
when you carried it upstairs V 

' Of course it was in the case ; Miss Bellew 
put it back in the case herself. She had been 
trying it on to show her friends, and when she 
took it off she put it back in the case.' 

What an idiot the man must be to think 
that anyone would drojD a diamond necklace 
about the room ! 

' Did Miss Bellew fasten the case when she 
put the necklace back T 

' I suppose so. It was a rather difficult spring 
to open ; I don't know what it may have been 
to close. I do not remember trying to close 

' You opened it, then ?' 

' Yes, of course I opened it !' 

' When did you first open it V 

' I — I am sure I don't remember ; on the 


evening of the wedding, most likely. But what 
can that have to do with the loss of the neck- 
lace V 

Edith was getting impatient ; she could not 
think what the man meant by asking these 
idiotic questions. 

We will come to that presently,' he said in 
his dry way. ' I am sorry to detain you, but 
I am not asking a single question that is un- 
necessary. Am I to understand that on the 
only occasion on which you opened the case you 
did not close it again ?' 

' I have no recollection of closing it.' 

'You assisted Mrs. Tremlett — Miss Bellew 
that was — in carrying her presents upstairs on 
the eve of the wedding, and the case containing 
the necklace was among them V 

' The case containing the necklace was most 
certainly among them,' Edith said rather 

She could not think what the man was 
driving at. 


' And you locked them up in the safe ?' 

* I locked them up m the safe.' 

* Who assisted vou to lock the safe V 

* No one assisted me ; I locked it without 
assistance. Miss Bellew had gone to her 
mother's room ; she had gone to wish her 
good- night, and I stayed behind to lock the 

' You stayed behind ? Did you stay behind 
alone, or was anyone with you holding a 
light ?' 

* There was no need of a light ; there was 
sufficient lio:ht from Mrs. Bellew 's dressinof- 

* Then you were alone when you locked the 
safe V 

* I was alone when I locked the safe.' 

' And about the keys : what did you do with 
the keys when you had locked it ?' 

' I took back the keys at once to Mrs. Bellew's 
room. She was wishing Dora — Miss Bellew — 
good-night, and she was rather overcome, and 


I did not go in. I gave them to her maid at 
the door.' 

' You did not see the maid take them into 
her mistress's room V 

' No ; she was waiting at the door, with the 
handle in her hand, until Miss Bellew came 
out. She must have taken the keys in directly, 
or Mrs. Bellew would have asked for them. 
They were under her pillow in the morn- 

' And you do not remember having seen the 
necklace again after you had locked it in the 
safe overnight ?' 

' I do not remember having seen it after. It 
was such a busy morning that I cannot be quite 
sure. There was so much confusion that it 
is impossible to remember distinctly what 

' Miss Bellew unlocked the safe in the morn- 
ing, if I understand aright, and brought the 
jewelry, that had been taken up overnight, 
down into the room where the wedding presents 


were arranged. Did you give her any assist- 
ance V 

* I may have carried some of the things 
downstairs — I do not remember. Everything 
was done in such a hurry ; we were going up 
and down the stairs all the morning. The 
things were not brought down until quite late, 
just before the bride was dressed for the 
wedding. They had been forgotten until then, 
there was so much else to think of, and she 
arranged them herself.' 

* Did you see her arrange them V 

' I was going in and out of the room while 
she was arranging them ; they were in a room 
off the drawing-room — Mrs. Bellew's boudoir. 
There were two doors to the room ; one opened 
into the back drawing-room, and one on to 
the landing : both the doors were open on the 
morning of the wedding.' 

* Did you particularly notice how she 
arranged them V 

' Dear me, no ! I had other things to do. I 

VOL. I. 9 


only remember noticing, quite casually, that she 
had not opened the case containing the neck- 

' Did it occur to you to ask why it was not 
opened like the rest V 

' I didn't think at all about it. I merely 
noticed that it was not opened.' 

Edith did not say the reason that had 
occurred to her on that ill-fated morning for the 
morocco case being closed. It was not likely 
she would tell this stranger of the unfortunate 
little joke she had made about Buddha. 

' The door of the room was locked, I su23pose, 
while the wedding party were at church ?' 

' I know nothing about the door of the room 
being locked ; it might have been wide open, for 
all T know. It was not my concern ; I was one 
of the bridesmaids.' 

Edith was getting tired of the man's ques- 
tions. If he wanted to ask about the rooms, 
and the locking of the doors, he ought to go to 
Nunwell ; it was ridiculous, his coming here. 


* I will not detain you much longer/ he said, 
noticing her impatience. 

She did not attempt to conceal her impatience ; 
she had so many things to do, and this tiresome 
person was wasting all the morning. 

' Whom can you remember having last seen in 
the room where the presents were displayed 
before the diamonds were missed ? Think 
before you answer ; this is rather an important 

' The last person V she repeated. ' Captain 
Tremlett was the last person who was in the 
room. He was there and on the landing all 
the time Mrs. Tremlett was chanoino: her 
wedding dress. I quite well remember see- 
ing him there, walking up and down the 

' Why was he walking up and down the 
room V 

' He was impatient, I suppose. He wanted 
to be off ; he kept saying that they would be 
late for the train. He was walking about all 


the time the bride was puttmg on her travelHng 

* And the wedding presents were on view at 
this time V 

* They were not really on view ; the guests 
were all downstairs at the breakfast, but 
Captain Tremlett had come away from the 
table before the rest. The presents were not 
on view until the bride and bridegroom had 
driven away.' 

' Who was with him while he was walking 
up and down the room ?' 

' I'm sure I don't know. He was alone when 
I saw him, standing at the door. I came 
downstairs to tell him Mrs. Tremlett was just 
ready. He kept on sending messages up to 
the room where she was dressing, and I had to 
go downstairs to satisfy him.' 

' And after he left the room, when the 
wedding party had driven away, you found 
out the diamonds were missing V 

* When the guests came upstairs to look 


at the presents, I fouiid the case was 

Edith got up from her seat ; she was in no 
humour to answer any more questions, and Mr. 
Finch did not seek to detain her. 

' I am much obliged to you, madam, for the 
information you have given me,' he said in his 
courteous way when he took his leave ; but 
there was nothing in his words or manner to 
indicate whether he had learned anything of 
value or not. 



Mrs. Bellew had not had one quiet hour since 
the discovery of the loss of Dora's diamonds. 
Captain Tremlett had put the matter into the 
hands of an experienced detective at Scotland 
Yard, and his emissaries had been coming and 
going to and from Nunwell ever since. There 
was not a day that Mrs. Bellew was not dis 
turbed by someone prowling about the house 
asking questions. 

Every inmate of Nunwell had been separately 
examined, and all the servants' boxes had been 

No good had come of all this questioning ; 


the missing diamonds were as far off being 
found as ever. 

But this was not the worst of it. The loss 
of the diamond necklace would have been 
nothing comj)ared to the complications it in- 
volved — the quite cruel and inexplicable com- 

A misunderstanding had arisen between Dora 
and her husband. It had arisen on account of 
the loss of the necklace, or, at least, it 
dated from the time when the loss was dis- 

Captain Tremlett had been moved to anger 
on the day of his wedding at the slight — he 
called it the slight - that the poor unconscious 
little bride had shown him in not wearinof his 
wedding gift. 

He had chosen to take umbrage at it ; he 
had been sulky all through the ceremony, 
and he had behaved like a bear at the break- 

He was behaving very badly now, according 


to all accounts ; he was treating that poor, 
meek-spirited little ' Mousey ' abominably. 

She had not complained to her mother — she 
would not have complained for the world ; but 
Parker, her mother's maid, who had accom- 
panied her on her honeymoon, had written to 
Mrs. Bellew about certain things. Parker had 
been Mrs. Bellew 's confidential maid for years, 
and she had given her up to Dora at her 

Parker had not liked the way her young 
mistress was treated, and she had written home 
to her mother, and told her certain things. If 
what Parker told her w^as true, the man was 
behaving like a brute — there was no name that 
was bad enough for him. 

Mrs. Bellew's position was rather difficult, 
not to say delicate. It is an ungracious thing 
for a mother-in-law to interfere between a man 
and his wife — ungracious and unthankful. She 
had no excuse for interfering. Dora had not 
complained. Her letters had not been so effu- 


sive as the letters of some brides of a week : 
she had not dwelt very much on the happiness 
— the supreme bliss — of her present lot ; but 
she had not uttered one word of complaint. 

What Parker had written to her former 
mistress she had written in confidence= — in the 
strictest confidence. If Mrs. Bellew betrayed 
any knowledge of certain facts that she had 
disclosed to her, Parker would very justly be 
regarded as a spy, and no doubt she would be 
summarily dismissed. What man in his senses 
would keep a woman in his service who was 
always writing detailed re23orts of his doings to 
his mother- in-law ? 

Whatever had happened in the sacred privacy 
of that honeymoon tour, she had no right to 
know anything about it. Above all things, she 
had no right to interfere. Dora's mother told 
herself this a dozen times a day, and yet, if 
Parker's account were true, she did not know 
how to remain passive. 

The anxiety and worry preyed upon her 


spirits ; her nearest friends could not under- 
stand her unusual depression. Everyone agreed 
that she was worrying herself to death about 
the necklace that had been stolen from her 

Sir Bourchier had been much disturbed by 
the loss of the diamonds. They were family 
jewels ; they had belonged to his great-grand- 
mother, who had worn them in a head dress at 
the wedding of his most gracious Majesty 
King George III. to Queen Charlotte. There 
was a picture of her, with the dress she wore 
on the occasion, and the jewels in her hair, 
hanging in the long gallery at Castle Hill. 

Sir Bourchier was not satisfied with his son's 
action. He had written, or he had caused his 
daughter Ermyntrude, who acted as his 
amanuensis, to write, to a private detective in 
London, who had once been employed about a 
plate robbery at Castle Hill, and who had suc- 
ceeded in tracing the delinquents and recover- 
ing the stolen property. Sir Bourchier had 


instructed this man to investigate the mystery 
connected with the lost diamonds ; they were 
family property, and he had a perfect right to 
take independent action in the matter. The 
man he instructed worked entirely on his own 
individual responsibility ; he had no connection 
whatever with Scotland Yard. 

This person also came down to Nunwell, and 
made inquiries about the necklace. He did not 
hover about the place for days, as Captain 
Tremlett's agents had done ; he drove up to 
the house in the morning, and he drove back 
to the station in the afternoon. He made a 
few inquiries, and he inspected the position of 
the safe, and the approaches to the room where 
the necklace had been on view, or was sup- 
posed to have been on view ; and he had an 
interview with the housekeeper, who had the 
key of the room in her pocket while the 
wedding party were away at church. He did 
not ask to see the servants' boxes ; he did not 
give any trouble to anybody ; he asked the 


questions he had come to ask, and when he had 
partaken of some lunch he drove away. 

While he was eating his luncheon in the 
dining-room — the room where the wedding 
breakfast had been spread — he learnt some 
particulars about the wedding. He kept the 
man-servant who waited upon him in conversa- 
tion about the events of the day while he was 
eating his luncheon. 

' It was a wet day, then V he said casually. 

' It was pouring cats and dogs all the time 
the party were away at church.' 

' That was unfortunate ; but it did not 
matter, as they were in close carriages.' 

^ Close carriages are as bad as open ones 
when people don't shut the windows. Miss 
Dora — Mrs. Tremlett — was wet through when 
she came back from church. I saw it myself 
I was standing on the steps when the carriage 
drove up, and I opened the door for her to 

' Wet through ! The bride Avet through V 


the detective said, pausing with his knife and 
fork in his hand. ' I never heard such a 
thing. There must be some mistake.' 

'I opened the door of the carriage myself; 
there couldn't be no mistake,' the footman said, 
in an injured tone. * The front of her satin 
dress was wet, and her veil, the side the rain 
had drifted in, was that wet that you could 
have wrung it.' 

' Why did she keep the window of the 
carriage open in the rain V the detective 

' It wasn't her ; it was the Captain. They 
had had a tiff on the way, an' he was sulky an' 
wouldn't put up the window of the carriage.' 

The detective smiled. He was a young man, 
and he couldn't help smiling at the ridiculous 
picture the man had drawn of the sulky bride- 
groom keeping the carriage window open, and 
the bride getting wet through. 

* What was the tiff about ?' he asked. 

' About the necklace he had give her for 


a wedding present — the one that was stolen. 
He thought she ought to have wore It at the 
wedding, an' she didn't ; so he had a fit of the 
sulks, an' wouldn't speak a civil word to her for 
the rest of the day.' 

' He was angry because she didn't wear the 
necklace, then ? Pity she hadn't worn it. If 
it had been on her neck, it wouldn't have been 

' I never see a man so angry about a little 
matter, an' show off so before the company. 
There was Sir Bourchier a-sitting there, just 
where you are sitting, an' the young ladies, 
an' all the great people hereabouts ; an' the 
Captain he gets up from the table, before the 
healths have been drunk an' the breakfast 
is half over, an' declares it is time to go 

' How about the bride ? Couldn't she keep 
him in order ?' 

' Oh, poor little Miss Dora hadn't the spirit 
of a mouse. They used to call her "Mousey,"" 


because she was so timid an' had no spirit. 
She got up from the table directly he told her^ 
an' hurried away to take her gown off and put 
on her travelling things. He didn't give her no 
rest all the time she was changing her things. 
He went up to the drawing-room and walked 
up and down muttering to hisself, an' coming to- 
the foot of the stairs every now an' then to call 
up an' ask if she were ready. Mrs. Roberts, 
the housekeeper, came up while he was there 
with the key of the room where the presents 
were laid out, an' she unlocked the door, think- 
ing that might keep him quiet. He was stand- 
ing just inside the room, with his hands in his 
pockets, a-calling up to her, when I came 
upstairs to tell him the carriage had come 

' Was anyone with the — er — Captain when 
you saw him standing just inside the room, 
calling to the— er — bride to come down V 

' Not that I can remember. He was there^ 
alone. Everyone was upstairs helping the: 


bride, an the guests hadn't come up from the 

The detective was so moved by the picture of 
this modern Bluebeard standing at the foot of 
the stairs, shouting to the bride to come down, 
that he gave a low whistle. 

He jumped up from the table a moment after, 
and declared that he w^as ready to start. 

While the dogcart that he had driven over 
from Hereford was being brought round, he 
went upstairs to have another look at the room 
where the wedding presents had been laid 

It did not seem wortli while to go up and 
look at the empty room where the jewels had 
once been. If the walls could have given back 
reflections of all that liad happened wathin 
them, it would have been different. With the 
phonograph mysteriously giving back the sound 
of our voices, who shall say that the walls 
a.bout us may not give back the shadows which 
we cast upon them, that their silent witness 


may not some day reveal the hidden secrets of 
our Hves ? 

The room, which was known as the boudoir, 
adjoined the drawing-room, and the door ^^-as 
very near the foot of the stairs that led to the 
upper story. Anyone standing within the 

door could be heard distinctlv on the floor 


above. There was nothing to be learnt from 
the position of the room — nothing to give a 
clue to the recovery of the lost necklace. 

While the detective was standing at the top 
of the stairs, measuring with his eye the dis- 
tance from the landing to the room above, 
where the bride had been dressing, while her 
husband was shouting to her from below, a 
young woman came out of the back drawing- 

It was Mrs. Bellew's new maid — a smartly- 
dressed young woman, w4th a fresh colour and 
a fringe, and wearing a jaunty cap. She stepped 
back when she saw a man standing at the top 
of the stairs, and the colour dropped suddenly 

VOL. I. 10 


out of her face. She was not a bad-looking 
young woman, but there was an anxious, 
worried look about her face that her fringe 
could not hide, and the lines about her mouth 
were hard. 

' Oh, it is all right,' the detective said, with 
a smile ; ' I am only making a few observations.' 
And then a thought seemed to strike him. 
' You are Mrs. Bellew's maid V he said. 

' Yes ; but I have only been in her service a 
few weeks. Her old maid left her to go with 
Mrs. Tremlett, when she was married.' 

The woman had a nervous, constrained 
manner, and she spoke rather hurriedly. 

' You were here at the time of the wed- 
ding V 

' Yes, I was here at the wedding.' 

' You remember seeing the necklace that was 

' No, I have never seen the necklace ; I have 
never set eyes upon it !' 

She answered sharply, almost rudely, and 


turned her back on the detective, as if to go 

' One moment, Mary,' he said good- 
humouredly. ' Your name is Mary, isnt it ? 
Just tell me what you know about the loss of 
the necklace.' 

' My name isn't Mary, and I don't know any- 
thing about the necklace. I never set eyes on 
the necklace.' 

' So you have said before ; but you haven't 
told me your name — your right name, if it isn't 

' Yenner — at least, Simmons,' the woman said, 
correcting herself 

' Christian and surname ?' he asked. 

He made the inquiry in an offhand way ; 
there was nothing in his manner to agitate her, 

'No, surname,' she said shortly; ' my Christian 
name is Patience.' 

' Patience Yenner or Patience Simmons ?' he 

He put the question rather suddenly, as if he 


had tripped her up, and he looked her steadily 
in the face for a moment while he waited for 
her reply. 

The woman blushed and stammered. 

' Patience — Simmons/ she said sullenly. 

And again she turned to go up the stairs. 
. ' I am sorry to detain you, Patience — to tres- 
pass on the virtue that your name implies — but 
I want you to answer one or two questions. 
Did you assist in dressing Mrs. Tremlett on the 
day of the wedding — in getting her ready for 
her journey V 

' I was in the room helping, with the other 
ladies. I strapped her boxes while they were 
putting on her things.' 

' Did you pack her boxes ?' 
, ' I helped pack them, and I strapped them 
when they were packed.' 

* What happened while you were packing 
them V 

' Nothing that I can remember, except that 
Captain Tremlett was calling to her at the foot 


of the stairs to come down, and everybody was 
nervous and upset.' 

* Did you leave the room while Mrs. Tremlett 
was being dressed V 

* I did not leave the room until she had 
gone downstairs, and then I looked over the 
banisters and watched them go away.' 

* Were there any of the other servants 
looking over the banisters, watching them go 
away ?' he asked. 

' Not that I know of ; they were at the upper 
windows. I don't remember anyone else being 

' You were there alone, I understand, and the 
door of the room behind you, where the wedding 
presents were laid out, was open at the time V 

' I am sure I don't know whether it was open 
or shut ; I did not take notice. It might have 
been open, for all I know.' 

This was all the information the clever detec- 
tive that Sir Bourchier had sent down could get 
out of Miss Simmons. She was not exactly 


reticent, and he could not say that she had 
kept anything back ; but she was not quite so 
eager to volunteer information as the footman 
had been, and he didn't like the way her colour 
— she had rather a high colour — went and came. 

He thought about Patience and her meagre 
information, and the unwilling, not to say 
defiant, way in which she gave it, all the way 
back to Hereford. 

' Do you happen to know anyone of the name 
of Yenner about here ?' he asked the groom 
who had come over with him in the dog-cart, 
as they were driving back. 

* There are no Venners about here that I 
know of,' the man answered. ' It's not a Here- 
ford name.' 

When they reached the inn the groom was 
still turning the name over in his mind. 

' Do you know any Yenners about here T he 
asked the men in the yard, as he was taking out 
his horse. ' The gent I took over to Nun\>'ell 
was asking about 'em.' 


' There's a chap called Tenner on a job at 
Fryston — a painter fellow come down with 
Grace's men,' one of the men who was rubbing- 
down a horse stopped to remark. 

The detective ascertained before he left Here- 
ford that Fryston was the name of the place 
that was getting ready for Captain Tremlett 
and his bride. It was an estate belonging to 
the Tremletts, and the house, which was a 
good deal out of repair, was being done up. 
There had been workmen down from London 
doing it up for months past. The restoration 
had been put in the hands of a great London 
firm, and an army of workmen had been sent 
down. Fryston was within a couple of miles of 
Nunwell ; the dogcart had passed it on the way 
back to Hereford. 

The detective almost regretted, as he went 
back to town by the night mail, that he had 
not stopped on the way and had an interview 
with Mr. Yenner. 



An unexpected event occurred that brought 
the bridegroom back to Nunwell before the 
honeymoon was over. It was not an auspicious 
event to recall him before the appointed time : 
it was the death of a second cousin. The Rector 
of Compton Florey had died suddenly, and his 
kinsfolk had been summoned to the funeral. 

Compton Florey was a family living in the 
gift of Sir Bourchier, and the deceased Rector 
was his cousin, and Captain Tremlett was 
recalled from the scene of his wedded bliss to 
represent the head of the family on the mourn- 
ful occasion. 


Mrs. Bellew had hoped that Dora would 
accompany her husband, but the Captain re- 
turned alone. Fryston being in the hands of 
the workpeople, he stayed at Nunwell during 
his short visit to the neighbourhood. 

Dora was quite well, he said, in reply to her 
mother's anxious inquiries — ' quite well,' as far 
as he knew, ' and in a deuce of a hurry to get 
back. ' 

He did not give any reason for her being in 
* a deuce of a hurry.' Something in her son-in- 
law's face, or his manner, told Mrs. Bellew that 
everything was not quite right. Without those 
letters from Parker, she would have known 
that things had gone crooked. 

She would have given the world to know 
what was amiss, to have had her child back in 
her arms for half an hour. She would have 
found out, she told herself, in five minutes 
what had gone wrong, if she had had Dora 
alone for that five minutes. 

She couldn't get a word about Dora from the 


black-browed man who sat silent at table, or 
stood on the rug before the drawing-room 
grate, with his back to the fire, chewing the 
ends of his moustache. There was only one 
subject he would talk freely upon — the loss of 
the family diamonds. The subject seemed to 
have taken such hold upon him that it almost 
amounted to a mania. 

Mrs. Belle w received a letter from Parker 
two morninofs after her son-in-law's arrival. 

' Miss Dora,' the woman wrote — she often 
made a slip in writing, and called her mistress 
by her old name — ' is much better already for 
the Captain's absence. She was almost cheerful 
this morning. Keep him away from her as 
long as you can ; make any excuse to detain 
him. I quite dread his coming back.' 

This before the honeymoon was over ! 

Mrs. Belle w made an excuse to detain him 
the day after the funeral at Compton Florey. 
She expressed a desire to go over to Fryston 
and see how the work was progressing. 


Her son-in-law drove her over after lunch : 
he was in no hurry to get back to his deserted 

The men who had been sent down from 
London had been ^^'orking day and night to 
get the place ready in time, but it was not 
ready yet. It did not look as if it could be 
ready for weeks. The rooms were all smelling 
of new paint, and the walls had yet to be 
decorated. Everything had been settled be- 
fore the wedding, and Dora had chosen the 
colouring for the rooms ; she had been very 
particular about the colour — it had been chosen 
to match the furniture. 

Now all this was to be altered. Captain 
Tremlett walked through the house and found 
fault with everything. He was quite sure that 
his orders had not been carried out, and he 
went away in a rage, and telegraphed to town 
for the head of the firm to come down to Fryston 
to meet him. 

Mr. Grace came down the next day. All 


the world was running after Mr. Grace at this 
particular time ; he was the acknowledged 
Apostle of the Art of Decoration. He came 
down in response to Captain Tremlett's urgent 
telegram. He came down by one express train, 
and he returned to town by the next. He 
stayed exactly sixty-five minutes at Fryston. 
In the sixty-five minutes he walked through all 
the rooms and listened to Captain Tremlett's 
complaints, and he promised that everything 
should be altered — quite altered ; that another 
scheme of colour should be substituted ; and, 
having promised this, he went back to town. 
It didn't matter to him whether Fryston was a 
poem in saffron or a poem in blue ; he would 
get his money in either case ; it was not con- 
tract work. The difference in colour — the 
substituting orange for blue — would mean that 
Fryston would not be ready for occupation for 
a month later than the appointed time. 

A man came over from Fryston the next day 
with a book of patterns that had been sent 


from town for the Captain to choose from. 
The man who brought the patterns waited in 
the servants'-hall while he made his selection. 
People who came on business to the house were 
always hospitably entertained at Nunwell. 
There were cakes and ale for all callers, or, if 
more substantial refreshment were desired, 
there was bread and cheese, and a cut off a 
round of beef. 

The man who had come over with the book 
of patterns was regaling himself on a plate of 
beef and a jug of home-brewed beer in the 
servants' - hall, ^^'hen Mrs. Bellew's maid hap- 
pened to pass through. She had a bowl of 
flowers in her hand — a bowlful of late roses — 
which she had brought down from the drawing- 
room to chancre the water. A footman and one 
of the maid-servants were in the hall talking 
to Mr. Grace's workman when Patience came 
in. She did not see him sitting at the table 
until she was half-way across the hall, and 
then, without any warning, the bowl she was 


carrying slipped from her hands upon the stone 
floor and was shivered into a thousand atoms. 

It was an old Worcester china bowl that 
Mrs. Bellew set great store by. It was one of 
the treasures of Nunwell, and it was smashed 
to atoms. It had been carefully preserved for 
over a hundred years, descending from father 
to son through half a dozen generations ; it had 
been locked up in a cabinet at Nunwell as long 
as anyone could remember, and had only been 
taken out on the occasion of Dora's wedding ; 
only reverent hands had ever been allowed to 
touch it ; and now, in a moment, it was smashed 
to atoms by a careless maid-servant. 

It was all the work of a moment ; Patience 
was on her knees on the floor picking up the 
pieces, and the footman was helping her. 

' I shouldn't like to be in your place,' a house- 
maid who was looking on unfeelingly remarked. 
' I wouldn't be in your place for anything !' 

There was no need to add to the poor girl's 
distress ; her fresh-coloured face was as white 


as a sheet, and all the colour had left her lips ; 
her nerveless hands could scarcely hold the 
sherds she strove to gather up ; and as the 
man who was eating his lunch at the table 
rose up, and came slowly over to her assistance, 
she looked up and saw him coming over, and 
fell forward with a little moan upon the floor. 

The two men between them carried her to 
the open window, and the housemaid sprinkled 
some water upon her face. When she came to 
herself, she opened her eyes and looked fearfully 
round — ' for all the world,' as the maid re- 
marked, ' as if she expected to see a ghost.' 
The messenger from Fryston had gone ; he had 
not waited to finish his lunch. 

' Who is it ? where is he ?' she asked wildly, 
putting the girl aside. She was not quite her- 
self ; she did not remember what had happened. 

' Well, he's on the floor, I guess,' said the 
girl, with a feeble attempt at a joke, * and he's 
broke in bits. A pretty kettle of fish you've 
made of it !' 


Then Patience remembered the Worcester 
bowl. She wasn't good for much for the re- 
mainder of the day ; she was nervous and 
hysterical, and she broke down in a fit of weep- 
ing in the middle of dressing her mistress for 
dinner, and had to leave off and go to bed. 

' The poor girl's nerves are quite unstrung,' 
she told her son-in-law at dinner, speaking of 
the accident. She had not been very angry — 
it was no use being angry when the mischief 
was done — and the girl's distress had touched 

' No wonder,' he said grimly, ' when she's- 
broken a bowl worth fifty guineas !' 

He did not strive to make himself ao^reeable 
to his mother-in-law, and she was not sorry, 
except for Dora's sake, when he went away. 

' What an infernally unlucky house this is !^ 
he had remarked in her hearing when the acci- 
dent to the china bowl was being discussed ;, 
* nothing seems safe in it.' 

This remark, of course, applied to the neck- 


lace, the loss of which had given everybody so 
much trouble. 

Mrs. Bellew could but sicrh an unwillino^ 
assent. It had been a particularly unlucky 
house since he had come into it. 

She could not think why she had ever given 
her consent to the marriage, or what she could 
ever have seen in that big, black-browed bully, 
to trust her daughter to his keeping. It was 
late in the day to ask the question. She had 
been blinded, dazzled by Dora's good fortune — 
she had called it good fortune — it had been 
such a great thing to be the head of the family ^ 
Sir Bourchier could not last for ever ; he Avas 
already breaking up, and when he was gone 
she would be Lady Tremlett, with a rent-roll 
of twelve thousand a year, and the finest place 
in the county. 

What could a mother desire more ? Mi's. 
Bellew had not desired more than this for her 
daughter. She had desired it so much that 
she had not desired anything else ; she had 

VOL. I. 11 


not let any other consideration weigh in the 
balance. Other mothers would have done the 
same — she was no worse than the rest ; only 
now she would have given — she would have 
given years of her life to undo the mischief 
she had done. 


Dora's honeymoox. 

Captain Tremlett did not return to his bride 
until several days after he had bidden adieu to 
her mother. He did not, when he left Nunwell, 
fly back to her on the wings of love — or, rather, 
by the express train, that would have brought 
him to her side the same evening. He delayed 
his happiness, and spent a week in town. 
There were ' things ' that called him to town, 
he wrote to her ; but he did not explain what 
the ' things ' were. 

Dora was quite satisfied that he should delay 
his coming ; she would not have hastened his 
return for the world. 


When he came back at last, and she heard 
the grating of the wheels of his carriage on 
the gravel outside the house, the colour dropped 
out of her face, and she trembled all over. She 
would have run away from him if she could — 
she would have given anything to run away — 
but it would be only making things worse, and 
she kept her ground — at least, she sank down 
upon a couch, and sat there trembling till her 
lord and master came in. 

She had got to go through with it, she re- 
minded herself; whatever happened, he was 
her husband. She had no redress. It would 
only make a scandal if she ran away. He came 
in presently ; she heard his slow, heavy step on 
the stairs outside, and she rose up from her 
couch to meet him. 

' So you have come back at last, Lionel V she 
said, with a weak attempt at a smile of wel- 
come, putting up her white cheek for him to 

He did not kiss her for a minute ; he held 


her in his strong arms and looked down at 

' You are very glad to see me, I suppose V he 
said, with a laugh — a coarse laugh that made 
her tremble in his arms. 

* Yes ; oh yes !' she said hurriedly, but she 
could not put any warmth into it. 

And then he bent down and kissed her cold 
lips, and held her in a vice for a few minutes. 

She felt she must scream if he did not release 
her — that she must scream or die, that he was 
pressing all the life out of her ; but she endured 
it without a moan. It was one of the things 
she had to endure — one of his pleasantries. 

If she had been a coward she would have 
screamed, she would have told him that he was 
killing her, 

' It looks like it !' he said, with his dark face 
bending over her. 

She did not return his embrace ; she could 
not if she would. She only shrank from him 
and shivered in his arms. 


' Bah !' he said, putting her from hhn with a 
gesture of disgust. ' I thought you were flesh 
and blood, and you are only an icicle. What 
an infernal fool I was to marry you !' 

He had flung her back upon the couch, where 
Parker found her weeping an hour later, and 
took her up to bed. 

' I knew exactly what it would be, Miss 
Dora,' she said, when she had got her poor 
young mistress up in her own room and had 
locked the door upon her. ' I knew it would 
be as bad as ever. If you'd only let me write to 
your mamma ' 

* I wouldn't have you write to mamma for 
the world !' Dora sobbed, with her face on the 
bosom of her faithful serving- woman ; ' I would 
bear anything rather than mamma should 
know !' 

' Have you heard anything about the neck- 
lace, Lionel V she asked him the next morning 
at breakfast. 

She did not really care whether he had 


heard anything about it or not — she hated the 
necklace, she never wanted to see it again 
— but she was obhged to say something. She 
could not sit opposite to him all through that 
dreary meal without speaking, and there was 
nothing else she could talk about. 

He hated any reference to her old home ; 
when she spoke about Nun well, he was always 
reproaching her for wanting to go back, for 
being unhappy, dissatisfied. 

' If the police have got hold of the right clue, 
you know more about it than they do.' 

' I ?' she repeated — ' I ? What can 1 know 
about it, Lionel V 

' That is more than I can say,' he answered 
grimly. ' It was seen last in your possession ; 
no one else seems to have had the handling of 
it. You know best what reason you had for 
hiding it. ' 

* Reason for hiding it !' she repeated, looking 
at him across the table with eyes widening with 
astonishment. ' What do you mean, Lionel ?' 


' I only mean what I say,' he said, getting up 
from the table with a heavy cloud on his dark 
face, and a look in his eyes that she could not 
understand, that made her tremble. ' Perhaps 
you wanted it for a bribe : there have been 
such things. Hang it 1 you can never trust 
a woman ; the fairer she seems, the falser she 
is at heart !' 

She could not understand at all what he 
meant ; she could only sit there trembling, with 
her face scarlet and the tears smarting in her 
eyes. It was one of his ridiculous unfounded 
charges — one of the mean, cowardly barbs that 
he was always aiming at her little tender 

' A bribe ! whom could I want to bribe V 

She was not wise enough to let him alone, 
not to be disturbed by his cruel taunting 
words ; she was weak enough to reason with 
him. She was well named ' Mousey ' ; she had 
only the spirit of a mouse. 

* You know best. An old lover, most likely, 


someone whose silence you had to pay for — and 
you paid for it at my expense.' 

' A lover ! Lionel ! how can you say such 
things V 

She had risen from the breakfast- table ; her 
face and neck were scarlet, and her bosom was 
heaving. It was a gratuitous insult ; she had 
never had anything but kind things said to her 
in all her life ; she had never been credited 
with anything but pure motives and gentle 
actions, and now for this monstrous charge to 
be made against her ! It took away her breath ; 
it came upon her like a blow. 

' Yes,' he said with a harsh laugh, ' a lover ; 
is there anything so wonderful in a woman 
having a lover ? Bah ! you don't deceive me 
with your air of injured innocence !' 

He flung himself out of the room, and left 
her standing there flushed and indignant. She 
could have borne anything but this. 

How could she tell if he were in earnest, 
or if it were only a cruel jest — a wicked. 


wanton jest — to make her unhappy ? She 
knew so little of the man into whose keep- 
ing she had committed her happiness ; she 
never knew whether he were in jest or in 
earnest. Perhaps the knowledge would not 
have availed her ; his jest was often more cruel 
than his earnest. 

She had suddenly awoke to the miserable 
knowledge that there had been some mistake in 
her life. Someone had made a mistake. Fate, 
Providence, Chance, Circumstance — there were 
several nails to hang the fault upon — had made 
a cruel blunder. It was a rude awakening. 

She found out the mistake very soon after 
she was married ; she found it out at once ; she 
had not to wait a single day. There were 
hundreds of men in the world — her world — 
that she could have married, good men and 
true, and she had chosen one that was neither 
good nor true. At least, he had been chosen 
for her, and she had accepted him. She had 
accepted him without asking any questions — 


accepted him thankfully, gratefully, almost 
overwhelmed by the honour he had done 
her — telling herself, as everybody had told 
her, that she was the luckiest girl in the 
world ! 

Nobody had asked any questions. Captain 
Tremlett might have been the Sultan of Turkey, 
for the submissive readiness with which Dora 
Bellew had picked up the handkerchief he had 
thrown down. He had but to throw the hand- 
kerchief, and she was ready to flutter to his 
side, ready to give her life, her pure little soul, 
into his keeping. It was not her place, perhaps, 
to ask questions : he was the head of the family ; 
at no distant time he would be Sir Lionel. This 
was enough, surely enough, for any girl ; it was 
enough for Dora. 

Mrs. Bellew had been willing enough for this 
consideration to give up her daughter, her inno- 
cent lamb, that she had shielded so carefully all 
her life from the knowledge of evil, whose inno- 
cent eyes had never looked on an unclean thing. 


whose ears had never been defiled by an impure 

It was a rude awakening. Dora Tremlett 
did not awake all at once ; she could not realize 
at first what had happened to her. Dazed, 
bewildered, all but crushed, in the early days 
of that miserable honeymoon, she could only 
ask herself, day after day, if it were true, or 
if it were some dreadful hideous nightmare that 
she should awake from presently. 

It was impossible to hide her misery from the 
watchful eyes of Parker, but she would not 
have had her mother know of it for the world. 
Whatever happened, she told herself, her mother 
must never, never know of it. 

There would not have been much to tell her ; 
only the old story : a nature, not too noble to 
begin with, coarsened by self-indulgence, in- 
flamed to the verge of madness by drink. 

Dora's husband was not exactly a drunkard ; 
but he drank deeper than most men, and when 
he drank he was subject to delusions. The de- 


lusions did not always pass off with the fumes 
of the alcohol he had been drinking ; sometimes 
in his sober moments they assumed the most 
alarming proportions. 

Captain Tremlett did not drink as vulgar 
men drink. He did not make a beast of him- 
self, and roll about the room, and require to be 
carried to bed by the servants. He generally 
began drinking early in the day, after break- 
fast, and he would sit drinking till noon, and at 
noon he would mount his horse, a big iron-gray 
cob that was as strong as an elephant, and he 
would ride across the country, as the grooms 
expressed it when they talked of their master's 
doings, ' as if the devil himself were at his 

In these dreary October days — it was already 
October — he would not return until dusk, often 
not until long after dusk, and when he returned 
the fumes of his morning potations \^'Ould have 
passed off. He was seldom absent at dinner, 
a meal that poor Dora dreaded ; she was never 


quite sure what mood her lord and master 
might be in. Sometimes he would eat his dinner 
in sullen silence ; at other times he would find 
fault with everything, and get up from the 
table, before the meal was half over, in a rage. 
It was his pleasure that, at whatever hour he 
left the dining-room — and he often sat over his 
wine until midnight — Dora should await him 
in the drawing-room upstairs, and if he were 
so minded, he would keep her listening to his 
ravings till daylight. 

He had behaved better at Nunwell; if he had 
sat late over his wine, he had had the grace 
not to inflict his society upon his mother-in-law. 
He never, while he was there alone, went up to 
the drawing-room after dinner. When his 
potations were ended he retired to smoke in the 
billiard-room, and Mrs. Bellew saw no more of 
him till the next morning. Perhaps the foot- 
man could have told a tale ; but he knew his. 
place, and kept silence. 

Captain Tremlett did not come back until 


dusk on that first afternoon after his return 
from Nunwell. He had gone out after luncheon 
and he had not come back till dinner-time. 
His horse's coat was flecked with foam, and 
its sides were heaving, as it was being led back 
to the stables ; it had evidently been galloped 
hard ; its owner, having nothing else to take his 
ill humour out upon, had taken it out of his 
beast. His brow was as black as night when 
he sat down to dinner, and the meal passed in 
sullen silence. Dora made a pretence of eating, 
but every mouthful seemed to choke her ; she 
was glad to rise up from the table and get 

She could not escape the storm for long. Her 
husband followed her into the drawing-room 
almost immediately. She had not noticed 
that he had scarcely eaten anything — that 
he had been drinking heavily all through the 

She was reading when he came into the 
room — at least, she was trying to read — and she 


looked up with a terror she could not keep out 
of her eyes when he entered. She could not 
think what had brought him up so soon. He 
strode across the room in his slow, heavy way, 
and took up his accustomed place on the 
hearthrug, with his back to the fire. It was 
not a very large fire, and the night was chilly, 
and he quite covered it up as he stood there. 
Dora could not see a spark. He stood with his 
black brows contracted, glaring down upon her 
under his eyelids, with a gleam of something 
like triumph in his bloodshot eyes. She 
trembled and flushed beneath his scrutiny ; she 
felt herself growing guiltily pink, and her 
breath coming short and quick. 

' What is it, Lionel V she said timidly ; she 
was obliged to say something to break the 
dreadful silence. 

* You may well ask what !' he said, his face 
growing red with sullen wrath. ' I've found 
you out, my meek little mouse ; your game's 


* My game !' she repeated feebly ; she could 
not think what he meant. 

' Your little game, that you thought so clever; 
it's all unravelled ; the detectives have been too 
much for you.' 

' The detectives !' she said ; ' I do not under- 
stand. What have the detectives to do with 

He laughed a harsh, brutal laugh that made 
her shiver. 

' You'll find out soon enough, you little 
innocence ; you won't be able to take them in 
as you've taken me in. They've found out the 
whole story, and a pretty story it is !' 

' What story, Lionel ? What have I done 
that — that the detectives have found out V 

Her face was red with indignation, and there 
was a tremor in her voice that would have 
touched any other man. She had never stood 
up for herself in her life ; she had always had 
people to stand up for her, to take her part, 
if it were necessary — but it had never been 

VOL. I. 12 


necessary. She had been so gently nurtured 
all her life, so loved, and petted, and admired, 
that, now that this dreadful thing had be- 
fallen her, she did not know how to defend 

He burst into a mocking, triumphant laugh. 

' You may well ask what you have done, now 
that the mystery of the missing necklace is 
unravelled ! All the world will soon know 
what you have done ; it'll be on everybody's 
tongue. Sir Bourchier's fellow was sharper 
than the police, after all ; he's found out all 
about those midnight meetings. I shouldn't 
have thought your taste lay in that way.' 

' I don't know what you mean, Lionel,' she 
said, with some show of spirit, and raising her 
meek eyes to his with a look that he had not 
seen in them before. * Why do you speak in 
riddles V 

' By Jove !' he said, looking down at her 
fiercely, with a red light in his eyes that she 
quailed beneath, ' it's no riddle, and that you'll 


find out. Your secret's discovered, madam, and 
your fine lover is in gaol.' 

She rose up from her seat and stood before 
him white and trembling, with a certain pitiful 
dignity that even in his drunken madness 
appealed to him. 

'I do not know what you mean/ she said, 
with a little throaty quaver in her voice ; * I 
only know that you mean to insult me, that 
you are only saying this to cause me pain. If 
— if I have become so odious to you, Lionel, let 
me go back — let me go back to NunwelL' 

' Oh !' he said, his dark face distorted with 
passion, * that's what you're aiming at ! You 
want to go back ? I've been expecting this all 
along. You want to go back, do you ?' 

' I AA'ill go back to-morrow if my presence 
here is distasteful to you, Lionel,' she said 
meekly. She hadn't the courage to defy him, 
to stand up for herself ' I — I am ready to do 
anything you desire to make you happy ' 

' Make me happy !' he said with a laugh. 


* By Jove ! this is the best thing I've heard. 
Make me happy !' 

She heard him repeating it to himself and 
laughing all the way down the stairs ; he had 
left the drawing-room door open as he flung 
out, and as she stood there listening, with her 
hands clasped before her, and every nerve in 
an agony, she heard the door of the room below 
close behind him. 

She knew he had gone back for his evening's 
carouse, and that hours hence, after midnight, 
he would come upstairs again, and expect to 
find her there. 

It was hard to know what to do. She was 
only a girl, a mere child, and she had formed 
such wonderful ideas of a wife's duties ! The 
words she had said on that memorable day, 
when she stood in her white before that cold 
altar, with the rain pattering on the roof, were 
still ringing in her ears. 

Love, honour, obey : she had promised to do 
all these things ; there was no saving clause 


added to excuse their non-fulfilment. There 
was nothing said about drunkenness, madness, 
cruelty, neglect. The words were without any 
qualification — when there is a new rubric these 
things will be altered. She had promised to 
love, honour, and obey her husband : she had 
taken him for better or worse. If he turned 
out ' worse,' all worse, and no better, she had 
nothing to complain of. It was no more than 
she had bargained for. 



Edith Darcy had not been idle all this time. 
Her hands had been quite full. There was so 
much to get ready for her wedding, and there 
was no one to get it ready but herself Most 
girls have friends, relatives, to assist, some- 
times to undertake this happy work — it ought 
to be happy work, or it should not be attempted 
at all. 

Edith had no one but herself to choose any- 
thing, to decide any vexed question, to make 
any wise suggestion ; no one to flutter about 
her while she was trying on her wedding gown, 
and say tender, foolish things. 


She had to go through it all alone in a cold, 
matter-of-fact way. She did not feel her 
loneliness so much as some gfirls would have 
done. She had been used to doing things for 
herself for years, since her mother died. It 
would be quite a new thing for her to have 
someone always by her side to consult, to fall 
back upon. She was years older — four, nearly 
five years older — than Derek Stanhope, but 
she looked up to him as if he were years 
her senior, perhaps because he was a man, or 
because she loved to have someone to look 
up to. 

She consulted him about everything that she 
bought for the flat. She would not decide on 
a single thing without him. They spent hours 
together going through the furnishing depart- 
ments of the Army and Navy Stores. He had 
no idea that so many things were wanted for 
a flat, and he could not tell how Edith had 
got the money. She bought everything they 
would need before her wedding, and paid for it. 


When she came back from her wedding tour 
she would have a home ready for her — a nest 
ready furnished. It would be something to 
look forward to. 

The money trouble had been all got over, and 
the trousseau was complete, as rich and com- 
plete a trousseau as any woman could desire ; 
there was nothing wanting. The wedding was 
to take place in town. Mrs. Bellew was 
coming up on purpose that Edith might be 
married from her house; and her uncle, Kichard 
Darcy, her father's brother, was to give her 
away. She would not be married from her 
uncle's house — there was an old feud that had 
not been bridged over, that separated her from 
her uncle's wife (his second wife) and children — 
but she had been willing that he should give 
her away. 

He had offered her a home when her mother 
died, but she had refused it on his wife's 
account. He had married a young wife, a 
schoolfellow of Edith's, and there had been 


some disagreement at the time, and the breach 
had never been healed. It would be so far 
healed now that she would be at the wedding, 
and two of the girls, her cousins, were to be 

She could not afford, she told herself, to 
marry a man and let his family think that she 
had no relations. There must, for appearance' 
sake, be somebody belonging to her at the 
wedding. She had to make her peace with his 
people, as it were, to justify herself for coming 
into the family ; and her uncle, Richard Darcy, 
was the peace-offering. He was a man of 
wealth, and stood well with the world, and 
represented an old family, two old families — the 
Darcys and the Gunnings. The Gunnings were 
the older family of the two ; the Darcys had 
only come over at the French Revolution. 
They were of recent date compared with the 
Gunnings, who had been people of distinction 
in the Church and country for centuries. Peter 
Gunning had been Bishop of Ely in the time of 


the Stuarts ; his portrait hangs on the staircase 
of the University Library at Cambridge, and 
smiles benevolently down upon the successive 
generations of undergraduates who climb those 
well-worn stairs. 

Edith Darcy had to make the most of this 
connection ; she had so few things to recom- 
mend her to her husband's family that she had 
to make the most of those she had. 

The engagement had been a great disap- 
pointment to Derek Stanhope's people. He 
was a younger son, a third son, and his father, 
who held the family living — which had been 
decreasing in value every year — had nothing to 
give him. He had his commission, and a great 
deal of money had been spent on his education. 
He represented in himself the capital that had 
been sunk for his advancement, and it was 
clearly his duty to make the most of himself. 
It was a duty he owed to his parents for the 
sacrifices they had made for him. 

He discharged this duty by falling in love 


with a girl who hadn't a penny besides her 
' allowance ' — a slender allowance that was tied 
down to her for life, and that she was not 
suffered to anticipate. Edith had explained all 
this to her lover ; he knew exactly how she 
stood ; he had no excuse for his folly, except, 
indeed, the excuse — the old, threadbare excuse 
— that he was in love. 

If he had married an heiress, or even a girl 
with a moderate amount of wealth, sufficient 
to enable him to keep up a certain position in 
society — to keep his head above water — his 
friends would have welcomed her with every 
demonstration of affection ; but they had re- 
ceived Edith coldly. Nothing could have been 
colder than the reception she met with from 
the family of hev Jiance. 

They could not think what Derek could 
see in her — ' a plain dowdy woman, old enough 
to be his mother !' 

Her future sisters-in-law were very sweeping 
in their verdict ; they did not mince matters. 


They were quite sure that Edith was thirty- 
five, if she were a day ; that her beauty, if she 
had ever had any, was a thing of the past ; and 
that she was the last woman in the world that 
Derek ought to have married ! If she had 
had the excuse of beauty, they could have 
understood his infatuation — men are so easily 
led away by a pretty face — but Derek had no 
such excuse. 

They reckoned without their host ; they did 
not know, they could not tell, what Derek 
saw in the woman he loved. It is certain that 
he saw something in her that he had never seen 
in any other woman. 

The attitude of her future husband's family 
had something to do with Edith's arrangements 
for the wedding. She would have been glad 
to be married quietly, without any show or 
expense, and to go away on her honeymoon 
without anybody being the wiser. Under the 
circumstances, this was out of the question. It 
would not do to have a hole-and-corner affair, 


to slink into the family as if she had no right 
there. There was nothing to be done but to 
have a proper wedding, with the full comple- 
ment of bridesmaids, and carriages, and wedding 
guests, and a champagne breakfast to follow. 

It was all utterly distasteful to Edith, but 
it had to be done. Mrs. Bellew, who had 
known her for years, and loved her as a 
daughter, came up to town and offered to give 
the wedding breakfast and invite the guests. 
Edith was to be married from her house. She 
did not stop with the breakfast ; she provided 
the carriages and everything else that had to 
be provided, as if Edith were her own child. 

Grace Bellew, Dora's younger sister, had 
come up with her mother ; she was to be one 
of Edith's bridesmaids. There were to be the 
regulation number — six bridesmaids. Edith's 
two cousins, two sisters of the bridegroom, a girl- 
friend, and little Grace, made up the number. 

All this prejDaration was a worry and burden 
to Edith, who had wished to be married as 


quietly as possible. A week before the time 
fixed for the wedding, she went to Lowndes 
Square to stay with Mrs. Bellew. Her things 
were all ready, and it w^as easier to have them 
sent direct there than to St. Oswald's. It was 
understood that Dora and her husband were 
coming up to town to the wedding. They had 
not yet returned from their honeymoon. The 
alterations that Captain Tremlett had suggested 
at Fryston would delay the completion of the 
work for another month. They could not 
live in the house that was being prepared for 
them if they came back. Dora had written to 
her mother to say that her husband was willing 
to come up to town till their house was ready 
for them, and that they hoped to be present at 
Edith's wedding. This had something to do 
with Mrs. Bellew's stay in town. She was 
longing to see her child again, and she would 
certainly not have seen her if she had remained 
at Nunwell. 

There had been nothing heard of that wretched 


necklace. Detectives had been about the house, 
making everybody's life a burden, ever since 
the loss was discovered, and Mrs. Belle w was 
not sorry to come up to town to get away 
from them. 

They could have no excuse for following her 
here ; it was not likely that whoever had stolen 
the necklace had brought it up to town with 
him. She told Edith this on the first day that 
she came to Lowndes Square, while they sat 
talking after dinner. 

Captain Stanhope had been dining with them, 
and when he came upstairs after dinner, Mrs. 
Bellew was telling Edith about the detectives ; 
and then he learnt for the first time the story 
of the missing necklace. Edith had never 
mentioned it to him. Why should she ? She 
had been so full of her own happiness — her 
own affairs had so occupied, so entirely absorbed 
her attention — that she had thought of nothing 
else. She hadn't a thought to spare for Dora 
Tremlett's loss. 


' The detectives can't be very sharp,' he re- 
marked, when he had heard the story from Mrs. 
Bellew, ' or they would have discovered some 
clue before now. Most likely the necklace has 
been taken abroad for sale, or the stones have 
been taken out and sold separately. They 
generally do this sort of thing, I believe, in 
diamond robberies.' 

Edith dropped her fan while he was speaking 
— it was only a fire-screen fan, and she was 
shading her eyes with it from the fire— and he 
stooped to pick it up. When he returned it to 
her, he noticed that her face— she had been 
looking pale all day, pale and worried — had 
grown suddenly scarlet. He remarked it 
because the colour was so becoming to her. 
If an}^ woman had an excuse for assisting 
Nature, it was Edith. She never looked so 
well as when she had a rich streak of scarlet 
on her cheeks. Her hand shook as she took 
the fan from her lover and held it before 
her hot cheeks. He did not think of it at 


the moment, but he remembered it after — long; 

She went back to St. Oswald's the next day; 
she went back unexpectedly — some business, 
she explained, had called her back — and she 
did not return to Lowndes Square until the 
day before the wedding. 

A letter had reached her the morninp' after 
that conversation about the missing diamonds, 
when her lover was present, and it related to 
the necklace. The letter had been forwarded 
to her from St. Oswald's, and a post had been 
lost in the transmission. It was from a gentle- 
man who purposed to visit her at Gotham 
House to ask some questions relative to the 
loss of the diamond necklace. It was too late 
when she received the letter to alter the place 
appointed for the interview, and there was no 
alternative but to return to St. Oswald's. 

She did not say anything to her hostess as to 
the nature of the business that called her back 
to her aunt's house ; she only kissed her when 

VOL. I. 13 


she went away, and promised to return the 
next day. There could be no reason for her 
keeping the object of her visit secret. Perhaps 
she did not wish to revive the unpleasant sub- 
ject ; Mrs. Belle w had already been worried to 
death about it. 

On the platform at St. Oswald's station she 
saw the man who had oifered to take her ticket 
a month aofo at the London terminus. She 
recognised him the moment he got out of the 
train. He had travelled down by the same 
train, and stood waiting about the station until 
she had driven away. She could not tell why, 
but the sight of the man upset her — gave her 
an unpleasant, creej^y sensation she could not 
account for. 

Miss Gunning was not so well, she learnt, 
when she arrived at Gotham ; the doctors had 
only just left her. One of her old delusions 
had revived, and she was in great trouble about 
being taken away. There had been some talk 
at one time, years ago, when her weakness of 


mind first became apparent, of reLiioving her, 
but it had been abandoned. Perhaps some 
hint of this had reached her at the time, and 
the old dread had suddenly revived. 

She had been awake all nio-ht, listenino- for 
the carriage to drive up to take her away ; and 
she had given orders that all the doors and 
windows should be secured — no one was to be 
admitted. She had insisted upon having the 
key of the front- door taken up into her room. 
The key had been taken up over-night, and it 
had not been brought down in the morning, 
and when Edith arrived she had to go round 
by the back w^ay. 

She went up to her aunt's room at once ; 
the old woman would not be pacified unless 
she went up ; she would not be persuaded that 
the men had not arrived, and were not in 
hiding somewhere, unless Edith went up and 
showed herself. 

The bedroom-door was unlocked to admit 
her, and locked acrain after her — locked and 


bolted. Miss Gunning was still in bed ; 
she had refused to get up, and for further 
security she had pinned herself to the bed- 

She had a pincushion before her when Edith 
went in, and she was busily engaged pinning 
herself to the sheets. 

Blue- Eye and her female relative were sitting 
at the foot of the bed watching her ; they had 
been watching her for hours, and were still 
interested spectators. 

She could not spare a moment to return 
Edith's greeting ; her hands were full of pins. 

' I am very sorry, my dear, but there is not 
a minute to lose,' she said in her old quavering 
voice, as with bent, withered hands, that shook 
with eager haste, she stuck the pins in her 
clothes ; ' the men will be here presently, and I 
must be ready for them. They can't take me 
away if I am fastened to the bed.' 

The blinds of the room were closely drawn as 
usual, and in the dim light — it was a dull. 


misty October day — Edith saw the strange 
figure engaged in this strange task, sitting up 
in the bed. It would have been a ridiculors 
spectacle if it had not been pathetic — the 
worn, wrinkled old face, with the scanty gray 
hair straggling out beneath the wide frills of a 
huge nightcap, and the long lean fingers eagerly 
plying their ridiculous task. 

She had once been a beauty — a beauty and 
wit, the beautiful Miss Gunning— this silly 
old woman pinning herself to the bedclothes. 
Something in the attitude struck Edith as she 
stood there watchino; her : ' Would she ever 
come to this,' she asked herself, ' if she lived to 
Dfrow old and selfish and narrow-minded, and 
had no one to love her ? — would she grow like 
this some day, and j^in herself to the bed- 
clothes ?' 

It was a dreadful question — it was a ridicu- 
lous question to ask. She was not likely to 
grow selfish and narrow ; her life was full of 
interests, fresh human interests, and she had 


someone to love her, someone who was quite 
ready to swear before Heaven that he would 
love and cherish her all his life long ! 

She could not help smiling at her dismal 
thoughts ; and then she turned away to ask 
Penfold how long this had been going on. 

' She was took bad soon after you went away 
yesterday, Miss Edith, and she's been pinning 
herself up since six o'clock. If I've took out 
one pin I've took oiit a thousand ; as fast as I 
take 'em out she sticks 'em in.' 

' She is not ill, then ? She can't be really ill 
if she has been sitting up since six o'clock. 
Perhaps it is only one of her whims.' 

Penfold shook her head. 

' The doctors don't say, miss ; they are coming 
again by-and-by ; they've only left instructions 
that we are to humour her and keep her quiet.' 

While Edith was still talking to the woman 
at the foot of the bed, the front-door bell rano-. 
It was a loud, noisy bell — its summons could be 
heard all over the house. The old woman 


started up in bed, as far as the condltioii of the 
bedclothes would allow her to move at all. 

' They've come !' she cried in her shrill, 
quavering treble ; ' they've come for me at 
last — at last ! I've been expecting them for 
years, and they've come at last !' 

They could not pacify her ; it was as much 
as Pen fold could do to keep her quiet in the 
bed, until Edith promised she would go down 
and see the men who had come, and answer 
for her. 

The last sound she heard as she went slowly 
down the stairs, when Penfold had locked the 
door after her, was the old woman crying out : 

' They've come for me at last !' 



Edith went slowly down the stairs ; she was 
not thinkmg of the interview that had brought 
her back, of the man who was awaiting her in 
the dining-room below ; she was thinking of 
the scene she had just left, and wondering 
vaguely if by any possibility — if her life were 
suddenly wrecked and her happiness were to 
slip away from her— she could ever become like 
the old woman she had left pinning herself to 
the bedclothes. 

The man who had rung at the front-door 
had been brought round the back way. The 
woman who had brouofht him round had ex- 


plained to him, by way of apology, that it was 
one of Miss Gunnino^'s whims to have the door 
locked. There was no secret made in St. 
Oswald's of the fact that Miss Gunning was 
subject to ' whims.' 

If the truth were to be owned, the people of 
St. Oswald's were rather proud of the eccen- 
tricities of the owner of Gotham. Her residence 
in the High Street gave a certain amount of 
interest and importance to the shabby, decaying 
little town. 

The man who was awaiting Edith in the 
dininof-room below was the man she had seen 
at the station, the man who had once offered to 
take her ticket. She remembered the voice in 
a moment, and it seemed to grate upon her. 
There was no reason why it should grate upon 
her. He was a civil-spoken man ^^'ho had only 
called upon her on a matter of business. She 
could not understand why his voice aifected 
her ; she found herself recalling all the 
iacidents of the day when she had heard it 


last. It was a day full of incidents, and they 
all crowded into her mind as the man was 
speaking to her. She did not pay much 
attention to what he was saying ; she was 
thinking of something else. She found herself 
answering his questions vaguely, when she 
ought to have well considered every word 
before she spoke. He was only asking 
questions about the missing necklace — ques- 
tions she had already answered. She was 
angry at being brought down here to go over 
the old ground. 

But it was not all the old ground that this 
new man, with his unpleasant voice, was going 

' Do you happen to remember what called you 
to town on the twenty- third of last month ?' 
he asked, referring to his pocket-book for the 

It was the day that she had seen him at the 
London station. 

One of her sudden flushes came over Edith's 


white face at the man's question, and she did 
not answer for a moment. 

She was thinking of the quantity of business 
— business and pleasure — she had crowded into 
that short day. 

' There were several thincrs to call me to 
town,' she said presently. 

' Would you mind telling me some of the 
things V 

She considered for a moment before she 
spoke ; she could not see what her business in 
town could have to do with the loss of Dora's 

' There is no reason w4iy you should not 
know,' she said, ' though I don't see how it can 
possibly affect you. I went up to town to see 
my lawyer.' 

' Would you mind giving me the address of 
your lawyer V 

Edith gave the information he desired rather 
impatiently. She w^as almost Inclined not to 
give it at all. 


' You had business with your lawyer V 

' Of course I had business, or I should not 
have gone up to town to see him,' she returned 
somewhat haughtily. How could it concern 
this man what business she had with her 
lawyer ? 

' When you left Lincoln's Inn Fields, where 
did you go V 

' Where ? Oh ! I did some shopping. I had 
a great deal of shopping to do.' 

* You were shopping all day V 
'Most oftlie day.' 

' About what hour was your shopping over V 
' About four o'clock.' 

' You were shopping, then, from eleven o'clock 
until four ?' 

' Yes ; I had a good deal to do.' 

* Do you usually spend so many hours at a 
time shopping V 

The question was quite irrelevant ; it was 
almost impertinent. 

' I had reasons for sj^ending so much time 


shopping. I am about to be marned, and I 
was buying my wedding things.' 
• The man didn't exactly whistle, but he drew 
a Ion Of breath. 

' Indeed ! pardon me, but do you propose to 
be married soon ?' 

'I am to be married next week.' 

Edith's 23atieuce was at an end. She could 
hardly answer him civilly. If Derek Stan- 
hope had been there, the man would not have 
dared to ask her such questions ; he was taking 
advantage of her being alone and unprotected. 
In a few days more her lover would have the 
right to protect her, to defend her against all 
the world. 

' You were buying things for your new home, 
then — furniture and such-like — besides your 
wedding clothes V 

' Yes, I looked at some furniture. I don't 
know whether I exactly bought it at that 

' You came up to town on a later occasion, 


then, to decide about the furniture you had 
looked at V 

' I came up to town several times before I 
quite settled upon the furniture. I am sure I 
don't know what this can have to do with the 
business you wished to see me upon,' Edith said 

The man bowed and smiled, but he did not 
attempt to go. 

' Would you nund giving me the address 
where you bought the furniture V he continued. 
He was not a bit disturbed by Edith's anger. 

' I bought most of the things at the Army 
and Navy Stores,' she said shortly. 

* Will you give me the dates of the various 
occasions on which you went up to town to buy 
furniture V 

' I did not always go up to buy furniture, 
and I am sure I cannot remember the dates,' 
Edith said indignantly. 

' Perhaps I can assist your memory,' the man 
said, referring to his pocket-book. ' Did you 


go to town on Monday the 28th of September, 
and Wednesday the 30th, and again on Octo- 
ber 6th, besides subsequent occasions V 

The colour had dropped out of Edith's face 
while he asked these questions, and a startled 
look came into her eyes. She could not keep 
her voice quite steady when she spoke, and the 
words came reluctantly — 

' I believe — I went up to town — on — those — 

She could not have spoken another word if 
she had tried. 

' And on each of these occasions you went for 
the purpose of shopping?' 

Edith nodded her head. 

' For no other purpose ? You had no other 
business in town V 

' I had appointments to keep. I had to meet 
Captain — the gentleman I — I am going to 
marry ' 

She spoke with difficulty ; there was a lump 
in her throat that got in the way of the words 


she was trying to speak — that seemed to choke 
them back. 

' Had you any other appointments to keep 
besides those with the gentleman you are about 
to marry V the man asked her, with his unplea- 
sant smile and his unpleasant voice. 

' I had no other appointments,' Edith said, 
turning away. 

' Think again ; try to recollect. Don't answer 
in a hurry. Had you not any other business 
engagements in town on the days that I have 
mentioned, besides those connected with the 
purchase of your furniture and wedding clothes, 
and your meetings with the gentleman you are 
about to marry V 

* I had no other business engagements.' 

The man did not ask Edith any more ques- 
tions. He gathered up his pocket-book and 
papers from the table, and he took u]^ his hat 
off the floor, and wished Edith ' Good-morning ' 
with his unpleasant voice, and went out, as he 
had come in, by the back way. 


When the door had closed upon the detective, 
Edith went upstairs. She went up more slowly 
than she had come down. Something had come 
to her feet ; they were so heavy that she could 
hardly lift them from the ground, and there 
was a strancre confusion in her head. All the 
old portraits on the walls seemed to be looking 
down upon her with reproachful eyes, and the 
sound of her footfall on the stairs filled her with 
vague alarms. 

She was growing like her aunt, she told her- 
self impatiently. If she encouraged these 
foolish fancies, these groundless fears, she would 
soon be pinning herself to the bed. 

A strange thing happened when Edith 
reached her own room. She sat down on a 
chair beside the dressing-table, and rested her 
head on her hand. She wanted to think, and 
the confusion in her head would not let her 
think. The room seemed to be going round 
with her, and there was a strange flutter at her 
heart and a gasping for breath, and then a 

VOL. I. 14 


blank wall rose up before her. Edith had 

She did not remember any more until half an 
hour later, when she found herself on the floor 
of her room, and Blue-Eye's relative rubbing 
its soft white fur against her cheek. 

She did not know how long she had lain 
there ; nobody would have come to her aid if 
she had lain there all day. There was only a 
white cat with a ridiculous name who took 
any interest in her. She could not help 
feeling grateful for even the affection of a 
cat ; she wanted love, sympathy, so much, 
just at that moment. She wanted strong, 
tender arms around her, and a bosom to weep 
upon ; and there was nothing but this white 

She took the soft white fluffy morsel in her 
arms, as she sat on the floor, and let her tears 
drop down upon it, into its long white fur. All 
the strength seemed to have gone out of her 
when she attempted to get up from that un- 


dignified position ; she could not think what 
had come to her. 

The doctors — there were two doctors in 
attendance on Miss Gunning — came to see 
their patient again later in the day. She was 
quieter after their second visit, and she had 
allowed Penfold to take the pins out of the 
bedclothes ; the delusion had passed, and she 
had fallen asleep. She was asleep when Edith 
went in to see her the last thing before she 
went to bed, and Penfold, Avho was worn out 
with watching, was nodding in her chair. 

She stole softly out of the room without 
disturbing either ; but she did not go to bed. 
She had a good deal to think about, and she 
had not been able to think till now. There 
had been a strano^e confusion in her head all 
day that had kept her from thinking. She 
had not been able to analyze her feelings ; her 
head had been in a whirl ever since that inter- 
view with the man in the morning. Something 
he had said had upset her — upset her more 



than she could tell. She did not understand 
the drift of his inquiries— she could not tell 
what he was driving at. 

If only she could have known what he had 
in his mind, she would have been more satis- 
fied ; it was the uncertainty that upset her. 
She had not answered his questions quite 
truly — not with the accuracy and strict re- 
gard to truth that was expected of her — 
and the man knew it. She ivas sure the mem 
kiieiv it. 

What use he would make of that knowledge 
it was impossible to say, or how it could con- 
cern him or concern the matter he had in hand. 
8he had a perfect right to answer him as she 
had answered him ; he had no business to pry 
into matters that only concerned herself Still, 
if she had had to go through that interview 
again, she would have answered him differently. 
She would, as he had recommended her to do, 
have taken time to think. 

She had written to her lover by the evening 


post, but she had not told him anything about 
that wretched interview — the business that 
had called her back. She would not be able to 
come up to town, she told him, for a few 
days. Her aunt's illness would be a sufficient 
reason for remaining at Gotham until the 

She went to bed, feeling miserable and de- 
pressed, with a load on her heart that she 
could not account for. For all the sleep she 
got, she might as well have stayed up. She 
got up after a time, and threw on her dressing- 
gown, and opened a bureau that stood against 
the wall of her room. She had already re- 
moved all her papers and letters from it — 
taken them away or burnt them. She might 
not have another chance of destroying them ; 
it was not likely that she would ever return 
here again. 

When her aunt died — and from what the 
doctors had let fall it was probable that the 
end was not very far off — the establishment. 


such as it was, would be broken up, and the 
things would be all sold, and the money 
divided. There were ten living descendants 
of her uncle Hichard Darcy — ten nephews and 
nieces to take their share of the spoil. Only 
an eleventh part would come to her ; it was 
not likely that any of the things she saw around 
her would descend to her : they would all pass 
into the hands of strangers. 

Edith was thinking of this as she lay awake ; 
it was one of the things that kept her awake. 
As soon as she got rid of one troublesome 
thought another would take its 23lace. It was 
this persistence of troublesome thoughts flitting 
across her weary brain that made her get up. 

She was wondering what would become of 
the jewelry — the Gunning diamonds — that her 
aunt had spoken of, when the time she was 
anticipating came. No one knew of them, or 
suspected their existence. Even the trustees 
that Miss Gunning had appointed years ago 
were unaware of their existence, and it was 


more than probable that they were not specially 
mentioned in her will. They had never really 
belonged to her aunt ; they had belonged 
equally to both sisters. They were heirlooms, 
and therefore the property of the eldest son of 
the sister who had married, and of his descen- 

Clearly, they were her own property, Edith 
argued ; she had only taken of her own when 
she removed that miniature-frame. She had 
never paid a second visit to the marqueterie 
bureau in the bow-room after she had shut it 
up that night. She had shrunk from touching 
things that, whether her own or not, she had 
no authority for removing. 

She had taken away nothing but the minia- 
ture — the portrait of her own grandfather. 
It was still in the bureau before which she was 
sitting, and she took it up and looked at it as 
she sat there. It was in a plain, old-fashioned 
gold setting ; nobody would have believed, to 
look at it, that it had ever had an outer frame. 


Edith had not taken it away from Gotham 
with her other things ; she had purposely left 
it behind her in the bureau. 

It occurred to her, as she sat there with the 
miniature in her hand, that it would be better 
to return it, to put it back in the place from 
which she had taken it. If it were found here 
later on, it might provoke inquiry. It would be 
safer to return it. She did not even admit to 
herself that it was on account of anything that 
the man had said during the interview in the 
morning that she had decided to return it. 

There could be no better time for returning 
it than now, when everybody was asleep and 
she was likely to be undisturbed. She opened 
her door softly, and stole noiselessly down the 
passage. It was a long passage, and the bow- 
room was at the farther end. It seemed to 
be full of threatening shadows as she went 
hurriedly down it, and the flitting, uncertain 
light of the candle she carried gave a kind of 
weird life and movement to the painted faces 


that were looking down upon her from the wall. 
She felt like a thief stealing through the silent 
house in the night. She was not quite alone. 
Blue-Eye's aunt, who had a strange affection for 
her, had followed her softly down the passage, 
and rubbed against her as she opened the door, 
mewing in her ridiculous way to attract her 

She had to take the cat into the room with 
her; she could not leave it outside; it would have 
waited there, mewing all the time, and would 
have awoke the household. It was a horribly 
ghostly room to go into in the middle of the 
night, with all the cats in their cases glaring- 
down upon her from the walls, and the stopped 
clocks, and her aunt's empty high-backed chair 
drawn up to the fireplace, and the great fire- 
guard before the hearth. It was all so un- 
canny and suggestive ! Edith felt that she, 
too, should go mad if she lived long in this 

She opened the marqueterie bureau with 


difficulty ; there seemed something wrong with 
the lock. The papers were thrown together of 
a heap, as she had left them, but the recess 
where the diamonds were concealed was closed. 
She remembered pushing it hurriedly to when 
Penfold had come into the room and disturbed 
her, and now she could not open it again. She 
felt all over the inside woodwork of the recess, 
as Miss Gunning had done, but she could find 
no spring or sliding panel. 

The diamonds which had been hidden away 
for fifty years were hidden away still ; it was 
not likely that the secret of their hiding-place 
would ever be discovered. The only thing that 
Edith could do was to put the miniature at the 
back of the recess, and pile the papers over it. 
It would be found there some day ; she did not 
really care what became of it ; it was out of her 
hands, and that was really all she was con- 
cerned about. It was with a feeling of relief 
that she locked the bureau. It was very trouble- 
some to get the lock to catch, but it caught 


at last, and she stole noiselessly back, as she 
had come. 

Not quite noiselessly, for the white cat, who 
had followed her into the room, came out with 
her — she was careful not to shut it up in the 
room — and it rewarded her for her care by 
mewing all the way down the passage. As she 
passed her aunt's door, Penfold cautiously 
opened it and looked out. 

* Oh, how you frightened me, miss !' she 
exclaimed, when she saw Edith outside. ' I 
thouMit it was a o^host !' 

' There's nothing to be frightened about, 
Penfold. I was anxious and couldn't sleep, so 
I got up and came out to see how Aunt Maria